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Transcript of Beat Poetry
* Originated in the 40's, 50's & 60's
* California and New York
* "beatniks" & society
* The Beat movement was characterized by a rejection of the materialism, militarism, consumerism, academic formalism and conformity in favor of individual freedom and spontaneity.
History in a Beat
Icons & Leaders
Icons & Leaders
Poetry Writing 2
Howl was deemed as being obscene and Ginsberg was tried for its content, though he was vindicated once the presiding judge ruled the work had merit.
Allen Ginsberg 1926-1997
"I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by
madness, starving hysterical naked,
dragging themselves through the negro streets at dawn
looking for an angry fix,
angelheaded hipsters burning for the ancient heavenly
connection to the starry dynamo in the machinery of night, . . . "
Kaddish (an ancient Jewish prayer of thanksgiving and praise) was the title of his
strongest, most affective, and important book of poetry. It was dedicated to his mother Naomi, whom he had a very close relationship with.
Jean-Louis Lebris de Kerouac
aka Jack Kerouac 1922-1969
* known for being a "leather"
* recognized for his spontaneous method of writing, covering topics such as spirituality, jazz, promiscuity, Buddhism, drugs, poverty, travel and life in general.
* poetry styles varied and included haikus
example: Haiku (The taste...)
"I lie on my back at midnight
hearing the marvelous strange chime
of the clocks, and know it's mid-
night and in that instant the whole
world swims into sight for me . . . "
Daydreams for Ginsberg
largely free verse, often surrealistic, and influenced by the cadences of jazz, as well by Zen and Native American spirituality.
Icons & Leaders
aka Lawrence Ferlinghetti 1919-
alleges that he never wrote “Beat” poetry, and instead wrote "wide - open poetry"
In an interview with the San Francisco Chronicle reporter Heidi Benson, Ferlinghetti explained why he preferred the term “wide-open”: “Wide-open poetry refers to what Pablo Neruda told me in Cuba in 1950 at the beginning of the Fidelista revolution: Neruda said, ‘I love your wide-open poetry.’ He was either referring to the wide-ranging content of my poetry, or, in a different mode, to the poetry of the Beats…”
Lawrence Monsanto Ferling
* naval officer during WW2
* started his own publishing venture
Pictures of the Gone World
Wild Dreams of a New Beginning
"There's a breathless hush on the freeway tonight
Beyond the ledges of concrete
restaurants fall into dreams
with candlelight couples
Lost Alexandria still burns
in a billion lightbulbs . . . "
* friends with Kerouac and Ginsberg
(to name only a few)
In their writing they encouraged direct and frank communication and, rejecting the formalist, impersonal writing encouraged by the New Criticism, they cultivated styles that gave the impression of spontaneity and improvisation. Much of Beat poetry was performance orientated (often read in public with jazz accompaniment).
The agreed upon style is often that of an anti-establishment thinker and has become a symbol of the counterculture. They believe in writing poetry for the masses, not just the educated elite, with a style that is simple, conversational and thought provoking.
Other Beat Poets Worth A Look
Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Kenneth Rexroth, Michael McClure, Philip Whalen, and Gary Snyder
Also to be considered:
City Lights Pocket Poets Series
A Dark Shade of Lipstick
What about the women?
The female Beats were interested in drinking, fucking and taking drugs, too, and that’s not an aspect of a gender worth highlighting when seeking inclusion in society. This is the reason given for why women aren't typically mentioned when discussing the Beat Generation or Beat Poets.
Queens of the Scene
Diane Di Prima:
This Kind of Bird Flies Backward
As Well As:
Edie Parker, Hettie Jones,
Joan Vollmer, Joanne Kyger, Anne Waldman
Icons & Leaders
William S. Burroughs
* Attended Harvard
* Wrote Satire and Paranoid Fiction
* Naked Lunch - was taken to court for being obscene. The case was resolved and now it is considered a classic.
* Norman Mailer declared him
"the only American writer who
may be conceivably possessed
“There is only one thing a writer can write about: what is
in front of his senses at the moment of writing... I am a recording instrument... I do not presume to impose “story” “plot” “continuity”...
Insofar as I succeed in Direct recording of certain areas of psychic process I may have limited function... I am not an entertainer...”
William S. Burroughs,
A woman's independence was either limited or non-existent. If they acted up, got out of line, or embarrassed their parents, they were punished often times more brutally than their male counterparts.
While men may at worst get kicked out of the family home and humiliated, women often times were faced with mental hospitals,
electro-shock treatment and being locked
up at home and force fed conservative values.
William S. Burroughs, Lucien Carr, Allen Ginsberg
New York - 1953
William S. Burroughs and Jack Kerouac
- New York 1953
Jack Kerouac, Neal Cassady, Allen Ginsberg, Willam Burroughs, Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Outside the City Lights Bookshop - 1950's