Beat Generation Authors, Poets & Artists

Here you'll find everything relating to the Beat Generation - biographies of the writers, poets, artists, and other players; interviews, book reviews, photo galleries, and more.

The Curse of the Blinding Worm. A close look at ‘Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook and Me’, by Malcolm McNeill

Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook, and Me

Colin Wilson read this extraordinary book at a single sitting. He can’t have been an exception. Malcolm McNeill’s Observed While Falling: Bill Burroughs, Ah Pook and Me sweeps you up into a multi-layered adventure that presses almost every button: it’s philosophy; it’s science fiction and it’s science fact. It plays astonishing tricks with reality. It’s a wild phantasmagoria … [Read more...]

Wordsworth and the Beats: The Longevity of Influence

Wordworth & Kerouac

Although William Wordsworth once stated that he was “not a critic” and, in fact, “set little value upon the art” (Leitch 556), in his “Preface to Lyrical Ballads” he nevertheless proposed and discussed several controversial ideas that would become key components to his literary philosophy, securing the “Preface” as a significant and influential addition to the cannon of … [Read more...]

Calling on Paul Bowles: Tangier, Morocco, August 1979

Paul Bowles (detail). Photo by Birgit Stephenson

Calling on Paul Bowles Tangier, Morocco, August 1979”There it is,” someone says, and in the darkness, in the distance, you can see Tangier sprawled across several hills, a white city illuminated by electric lights and veiled by a thin fog.After docking, disembarking and a wearisome wait to clear Moroccan customs, we take a taxi to our hotel, hurtling through the … [Read more...]

Aural Dialectics: On Allen Ginsberg’s Musical Rendition of Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience

Allen Ginsberg / William Blake  Songs of Innocence and Experience

William Blake’s Songs of Innocence and of Experience (1789) is a collection of illuminated poems separated into two groupings, Songs of Innocence and Songs of Experience, that engage with their respective, eponymous forces and ostensibly present them as a dichotomy, or perhaps rather as a linear transition, with innocence giving way to experience. But to consider the poem a … [Read more...]

Paul Maher Jr. considers Kerouac’s Haunted Life

The Haunted Life and Other Writings by Jack Kerouac

The Haunted Life and Other Writings / Da Capo Press / March 11, 2014 / 208 pp.Seventy years ago, in May 1944, Jack Kerouac toiled over a novella-length work set in Lowell, Massachusetts. It was written at the prompting of his two newest friends, the mischievous nihilist Lucien Carr and the budding poet, Allen Ginsberg. He titled it The Haunted Life and it was never … [Read more...]

Kerouac Before the Jazz: a review of “The Haunted Life”

The Haunted Life and Other Writings by Jack Kerouac

There are some great lost manuscripts in American literature and some are truly lost. Ernest Hemingway famously lost the only draft of the first short stories he ever wrote on a French train. Most writers have "lost" manuscripts, conspicuously placed in quotes because those stories for whatever reason the writer has are socked away until after their deaths (interestingly, … [Read more...]

Michael McClure’s GHOST TANTRAS published by City Lights in new edition

Ghost Tantras by Michael McClure

Originally self-published in 1964 and long out of print, Ghost Tantras is one of McClure's signature works, a book mostly written in "beast language." A mix of lyrical, guttural and laryngeal sound, lion roars, and a touch of detonated dada, this is one of his best-known but least available books, a deep well from which decades of poetry have drawn.McClure's inspiration has … [Read more...]

Interview – Paul Maher Jr., author of Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac’s On the Road

Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac's On the Road

Burning Furiously Beautiful: The True Story of Jack Kerouac's On the Road is an accurate, up-to-date, meticulously researched account of how Jack Kerouac's 1957 novel, On the Road came to be written.Kerouac scholars Paul Maher Jr. (author of Kerouac: His Life and Work; editor Empty Phantoms: Interviews and Encounters with Jack Kerouac) and Stephanie Nikolopoulos bring to … [Read more...]

Jim Morrison and Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac and Jim Morrison

“If he (Jack Kerouac) hadn’t written On The Road, The Doors never would have existed.” — Ray ManzarekManzarek might have added that if Jack Kerouac hadn’t written On The Road, none of the late 60’s might have happened the way they did, with kids hitting the road in search of themselves and the transcendental experiences that Kerouac had described in his novels. … [Read more...]

Review – The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico

The Stray Bullet - William S. Burroughs in Mexico

The Stray Bullet: William S. Burroughs in Mexico by Jorge García-Robles, translated by Daniel C. Schechter / University of Minnesota Press / paperback / 978-0816680634 / 176 pages / October 2013In 1990, Jorge García-Robles, professor of literature, traveled from Mexico to meet and interview William S. Burroughs in Lawrence, Kansas. Much of the information presented in … [Read more...]

In Honor of Michael McClure’s Birthday

Michael McClure at the Sweetwater

Today, October 20, is Michael McClure's birthday. Here are a few videos to celebrate!Michael McClure, Bob Weir, Rob Wasserman, Jay Lane, & Jason Crosby From a performance at the Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California, on September 12, 2013Michael McClure & Ray Manzarek - "Pico Boulevard" This song comes from the brilliant 2012 album, "The Piano … [Read more...]

Beat Generation film – “Kill Your Darlings” trailer released!

KILL YOUR DARLINGS

Kill Your Darlings dramatizes an actual event that took place in 1944, as the writers who would later be identified with the Beat Generation became embroiled in a murder that made headlines.While attending Columbia University, Allen Ginsberg became friends with Lucien Carr who introduced him to Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs - and to David Kammerer, an older man who was … [Read more...]

For Beat’s Sake: An Interview with Carolyn Cassady

Off the Road - Carolyn Cassady

We all live inside history, and Carolyn Cassady has seen her share. Ms. Cassady was gracious and open when she sat for an interview at her home in Monte Sereno, not far from Los Gatos.Carolyn Cassady, best known for her relationships with husband Neal Cassady and novelist Jack Kerouac, is an attractive woman with an easy laugh. The fifth child of a Nashville biochemistry … [Read more...]

Review – The Beats: A Very Short Introduction by David Sterritt

The Beats: A Short Introduction by David Sterritt

The Beats: A Very Short Introduction by David Sterritt / Oxford University Press / 978-0-19-979677-9 / 126 pagesDavid Sterritt's work might be familiar to Beat or film aficionados through his previous books, which include Mad to be Saved: The Beats, the '50s, and Film, and Screening the Beats: Media Culture and the Beat Sensibility among others.In The Beats: A Very … [Read more...]

Charged Vision: The Photographs of Allen Ginsberg

Jack Kerouac by Allen Ginsberg

The photographs of Allen Ginsberg recently were on display at the Jewish Contemporary Museum in San Francisco. Walking through the museum is like going on a jaunt through Beat History. A spritely Jack Kerouac followed by the drunk. A youthful William Burroughs, and the junky with withered skin. Gregory Corso, Gary Snyder, Robert La Vigne, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, and of course, … [Read more...]

The Beat Generation vs. “Beatniks”

beat beat beat

"Beatnik" is sometimes - incorrectly - used to describe to the Beat Generation writers and artists. We're going to straighten out the confusion for you! Here's an explanation of who the Beats were, and what the term "beatnik" is all about.What is the "Beat Generation"? "Beat Generation" refers to a group of writers who hit their creative stride in the 1940s-1960s. They … [Read more...]

In honor of ruth weiss on her 85th birthday

Ruth Weiss / copyright Horst Spandler

The following is from: “ruth weiss and the American Beat movement of the ‘50s and 60’s” by Horst Spandler, published in: ruth weiss, no dancing aloud – lautes tanzen nicht erlaubt. edition exil, Vienna, 2006. – also used as an introduction to ruth weiss’ book can’t stop the beat – THE LIFE AND WORDS OF A BEAT POET. Divine Arts, Studio City, 2011.ruth weiss’ and Kerouac’s … [Read more...]

Becoming Jill Kerouac

Jill Kerouac

It all started with the word. Not THAT word. But a word — or a string of words, rather — that struck me:[quote]There are no Jack Kerouacs or Holden Caulfields for girls. Literary girls don’t take road-trips to find themselves; they take trips to find men. (Kelsey McKinney)[/quote]As a freshly-minted English major with a semester’s study abroad, a few recreational trips … [Read more...]

Celebrating Allen Ginsberg’s birthday with a few videos

Allen Ginsberg

In honor of Allen Ginsberg's birthday (June 3, 1926), we've gathered a few videos together. We've got some poetry for you, a chant, and an interview or two.What are your favorite Ginsberg recordings? Please leave a comment below!Allen Ginsberg leads a chant in Chicago, 1968 ahead of the Democratic National ConventionHey, you smokers! Listen to what Allen … [Read more...]

Addendum to “Lost Letter Found”

Kerouac - The Sea is My Brother

Here is an addendum to a previous article written for Empty Mirror. Herewith I will describe the contents of the "lost" letter in both the U.K. and U.S. trade editions of The Sea is My Brother so that you may fill in a hole in the narrative of the book.As I read through the Viking (U.K.) edition of The Sea is My Brother, I noted that the editor, Dawn Ward explained that … [Read more...]

How Kerouac’s haiku changed my life

Kerouac Book of Haikus - collage by EmptyMirrorBooks.com

When I was twenty-two, I was lucky enough to be the only South African on an American college campus, studying Creative Writing and trying to figure out what to do with my life (along with every other college student, it seems). One chilly Fall day, I signed up for a course that unwittingly changed my life: an in-depth seminar on Jack Kerouac.I had read On the Road, of … [Read more...]

A “lost” Jack Kerouac letter found . . . and “lost” again.

Kerouac - The Sea is My Brother

In the U.K. edition of Jack Kerouac's 1945 novel, The Sea Is My Brother (Penguin 2011), there is an addendum of material meant to represent Jack Kerouac's formative writing experience during the early to mid-1940s. The thrust of this formative experience, according to this added text, hinged on Kerouac's sporadic friendship with Sebastian Sampas. Never mind the willful … [Read more...]

The Great Consciousness of Life

grass

Reaching in, pulling out. The great divide is conquered; and there lies an ever-evolving mission to extract meaning from chaos. This, then, is where it resides, the theater of the soul and the heart.In rewriting my biography of Jack Kerouac, I found that the only way to revisit that book once again was to take all of Jack Kerouac's epic letters to Neal Cassady, all of … [Read more...]