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.

Remembering poet David Gitin

Gloria Avner and David Gitin

It is with a numbed sense of great personal loss that I report the passing on June 27th of David Gitin: poet, educator, and polymath. As Gloria Avner lovingly phrased it (his long-lost teenage sweetheart, re-discovered and reunited in Key Largo six years ago), “he has finally graduated from Earth school.”It is never easy to get to know the complex and extremely gifted. … [Read more...]

October Ghost

JK - Kerouac typewriter

The smudged days of October—when my mood is hand in hand with the weather—remind me of Jack Kerouac. He died in October, on the 21st, and the anniversary of that day always comes and goes like a local subway suddenly gone express. I watch it pass, thinking I should do something, somehow commemorate the event, but I never do anything at all.I am aware that it is no longer … [Read more...]

Ted Joans website in works; photos sought!

Ted Joans Lives!

For several years, there's been a very small, basic website devoted to Ted Joans. Now, it's time to go big.The new website will launch in April 2015. But, before that happens, I need to track down some photos and information. We'll be sure to credit you for anything you can supply! (And, I'll send you a free TED JOANS LIVES! letterpress postcard - just ask.)Here's what … [Read more...]

Sinclair Beiles: A Man Apart

Sinclair Beiles - courtesy of GC - from the book Bone Hebrew

Sinclair Beiles was a South African writer associated with the Beat movement of the late 50s and early 60s. During the time of his earliest successes, he moved from South Africa to Paris, to live with the community of writers and artists, which included Gregory Corso, Brion Gysin, and William Burroughs, among others, at what would become known as The Beat Hotel. Yet, this … [Read more...]

Book Review – Ivy League Bohemians by Alison Winfield Burns

Ivy League Bohemians by Alison Winfield Burns

It is an irony of the Beat Generation and New York Schools that little is written about the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics. Founded at Naropa University in 1974 by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman, the school aspires to cultivate “contemplative and experimental approaches to writing,” and to this end, for the last forty years the school’s been the gathering grounds … [Read more...]

The Howl Hat

Allen Ginsberg - HOWL

My friend Sylvain went to San Francisco recently and brought us back some souvenirs as gifts. One of the places he'd visited on his trip had been City Lights Books. He brought me a t-shirt from there. And he also brought me one of the most complicated objects I’ve ever had in my possession: a khaki-colored baseball cap emblazoned with the word HOWL in large, black capital … [Read more...]

Some Kind of Dharma: Photographs

Some Kind of Dharma 1 (detail) - Steve Paul

“to just start at the beginning and let the truth seep out”Grant Street, San Francisco, 2009You can quite intentionally make a Beat pilgrimage in San Francisco, soaking in the aura, the coffee, the Bohemian spirit in North Beach nooks, bars and alleys. I did not do that. I chanced upon this sidewalk marker on Grant Street, Chinatown’s main drag, and it held me for a … [Read more...]

Book Review – Kenton Crowther’s Kerouac on the Binge

Kerouac: On the Binge by Kenton Crowther

Kenton Crowther's latest short e-book, a 3200-word essay titled Kerouac on the Binge (perhaps rather indelicately), is not an in-depth study of the author and his work, but rather the thoughtful musings of one who has read Kerouac's works in depth, and has something to say about them.You might see the word "binge" and think it refers to drinking. And, that's certainly … [Read more...]

The Road Toward Visions of Cody

The Road to Visions of Cody

In March 2015, Jack Kerouac's masterpiece, Visions of Cody, will be reprinted by Library of America (along with Visions of Gerard and Big Sur). Edited by Todd Tietchen, the novel has been extensively annotated with notes and a number of editorial idiosyncrasies restored.  * * * In the months following Jack Kerouac's April 1951 typing of On the Road, an act born out of a need … [Read more...]

Vast Regions from Nowhere: Paul Bowles, Unfathered Authors, Mother-Bonded Sons

Bowles & I

“I think that having spent my life trying to hide everything from everyone, I’ve ended up by no longer being able to find many things myself. Seriously.” —Paul Bowles, 1975 The Core “Other people’s indifference is the only horror.” —Paul Bowles, 1948The first time I read a word of Paul Bowles, I was sitting on a bench in the zócalo in Oaxaca, Mexico, around twilight. It … [Read more...]

Jack Kerouac’s “Strange Cemetery in Jamaica”

In the background, the "gastank" can be seen which is actually a water tank for the railroad.

--- from a work-in-progress, I, Duluoz!: An Appreciation of Jack KerouacIf I had to pick my favorite poem of Jack Kerouacʼs, it would be “Strange Cemetery in Jamaica” published in Some of the Dharma (1997). Strangely, or even tragically, it was omitted from the Library of America volume of Kerouacʼs Collected Poems, as it signifies Kerouacʼs creative breakthrough of … [Read more...]

An interview on Jack Kerouac and Library of America

Jack Kerouac - Library of America

March 2015 will mark the occasion of the publication of the third volume of Jack Kerouac works published by Library of America. I took this occasion to catch up with editor, Todd Tietchen, assistant professor of English at University of Massachusetts Lowell. The book is a chronological publishing continuum of the first volume and contains the groundbreaking novel Visions of … [Read more...]

The Great Consciousness of Life


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...]

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. 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 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...]