Archives For March 2014

On Bitch Magazine’s Response to Joan’s Death

One of our readers, Devin Fahey, recently posted a link to the Beatdom FB page. The link was to a provocatively titled article in Bitch magazine, “A Great Artist Kills His Wife—Now She’s Just a Quirky Footnote in His History.”

The article itself is partly a response to reviews of Barry Miles’ excellent biography, Call Me Burroughs – a much-needed update on the life and times of one of America’s most controversial writers. The author, Leela Ginelle, argues that these reviews cite Burroughs 1951 killing of Joan Vollmer Adams as the most important event in the author’s life, while also pointing out that Miles calls the incident “clearly an accident” and that Burroughs and his fans have made it part of the author’s personal mythology. Continue Reading…

Lobster Tail in Downtown Red Bank

Lobster tail in downtown Red Bank
A big lovely lobster tail sprinkled with confectioner’s sugar
Takes up the white cardboard bakery box tied with red-and-white- bake shop string
Nestled in pristine white bakery paper
Layers and layers of light flaky leaves shaped as shell
Crisp to the tooth
One crunchy bite
Fresh sweetened rich French cream oozes out
Another bite will set you right
Next bite lightens up this sad old world
Lobster tail of great price
Will knock you on your jass
One is enough
But two is outta bounds
Count Basie, outta bounds and fly me to the moon
And before you know it
You’re swinging at the bake shop in downtown Red Bank

Possible Essay Topics for Beatdom #15

Every time we put out a new issue of Beatdom, we issue a general “call for submissions.” You can find the latest one here. Typically we receive a number of very similar essays, and have to choose between them. This is unfortunate, as often we’ll get two very good essays on similar topics, and ideally we’d like to print both, but they would be rather tedious for our readers.

While I don’t doubt that will happen again, I have compiled a list of suggested topics and ideas. Hopefully this will help potential contributors develop different ideas, rather than going for the same ones. We don’t mind having, say, two essays on Jack Kerouac or Allen Ginsberg, but when half of our submissions are essentially on the same subject, it seems like a waste of talent.

If someone submits an essay on one of the following topics, and I feel it is likely to be accepted, I will remove it from the list below. Until then, please use these as inspiration. These are not required topics, nor do they have to be followed exactly… They are just inspiration.

  • The Beats as having emerged from WWII
  • WWII as background to Beat movement
  • War in the works of William S. Burroughs
  • Jack Kerouac in the Navy
  • Peter Orlovsky in the Korean War
  • Allen Ginsberg’s contribution to the anti-war movement
  • The Beats and Peace
  • What was Gregory Corso saying in his poem, “Bomb”?
  • The Beats as part of a class/cultural/generational war
  • Influence of war literature or war culture on Beat (or non-Beat) literature
  • Did Kerouac support US intervention in Vietnam, or was he just kidding?
  • Burroughs’ “War Universe”
  • Relationship between Beats and Hippies (apolitical and political)
  • The war on drugs
  • Related “non-Beats/proto-Beats/neo-Beats” like HST, Bob Dylan, Charles Bukowski, etc, and their thoughts on or relationship with various wars or war in general

Call for Submissions: Beatdom #15

The Beat Generation, it seems, dominated American culture between two major wars. The history books will tell you that they rose out of the Second World War, or as a the group emerged as a reaction to the post-WWII affluence of America. In fact, the Beats began as a circle of friends around Columbia University during WWII, and developing in the post-war era. Although not often dealt with in Beat literature, the war was of importance in the creation of the group, as one might expect.

By the time of the Vietnam War and the swathes of protesters across America, the Beats were largely considered a thing of the past, yet key members of the Beat Generation were rather vocal about the situation – having cast off the apolitical nature of their formal Beat ethos. It was Ginsberg, after all, who bridged the gap between generations and ushered in the Hippie movement.

War is something that shaped the Beats and yet it is a relatively unexplored element of their legacy. It is also the topic of the next issue of Beatdom.

As usual, we are looking for essays, fiction, poetry, and artwork pertaining to the Beats and/or war. Preference will be given to “and.” We like to be surprised, so preference will so be given to the more interesting elements. What was Burroughs talking about when he said this was a “war universe”? What made Corso write his classic poem, “Bomb”? What did Kerouac mean about American jeeps on the Firing Line? And as for Ginsberg… Well, his anti-war credentials leave a massive scope for study.

So go ahead. Surprise us. Impress us.

Or, if not, ask us for ideas. We have plenty.

Send your submissions or queries to the usual address: editor at beatdom dot com. The deadline is 1st May, 2014.

More submissions guidelines here.

See some essay ideas here.

CUT UP! An Anthology Inspired by the Cut-Up Method of William S. Burroughs and Brion Gysin

In Paris in the late Fifties the Beat Generation writer William Burroughs developed the Cut-Up Method. It involved taking a piece of finished text and cutting it into pieces – then rearranging those pieces to create a new text or work of art. Burroughs wrote that: “When you cut into the present the future leaks out.” His creative partner and pal Brion Gysin prophetically declared that: “All words are taped.” Continue Reading…

The Sea Is My Sister

The sea is my sister
Perth saint is my brother
Brothers are uncles
Uncles and nuncles
Philip, James, Frank, and Joe
Joseph sailor did go
The sisters Kulchicovsky
One, two, three, me
The house is my home
Car and trees are the key
To life in the suburbs
Bored malls alien me
Sea far away green-and-gray sea foaming sea
All sorrows get drowned in my dry cup of tea
Aunts, yes, three Marys and crosses a’plenty
(Believe that there will be some justification for all the horror of life i)
Childhood gone, swept away by the waves
Bended knees and mourning, I’ll return to the sea
Gray-green north Atlantic refreshes the soul
Breezes and salt brines the chill cerulean air
Newport, Cuttyhunk, Stonington blue,
Nanny Goat Tucket
We sailed there too
Regatta and buckets of riches it takes
The best part of the race
Not the sails and such (says Captain Sandy)
But the party and rum and the sparkling sapphire
Churning foam from the sea
And the brew in cold bottles
Watch the waves roll
And up picnic boat throttle
No matter how large your boat, ship, or craft
(No matter the size of your yacht, there’s always one bigger)
The sea is vaster than any of that
Up high on the deck
The wind whistles and howls
Cover my face with soft blini as towel
Bring forth spade, shovel, and trowel
No traveler returns
Each in turn returns to ashes and dust
Like the waves of the sea
Long before and long after
Little old me . . . And you, too, my friend
To each it will end

Kerouac, Jack. Good Blondes & Others. “Lamb, No Lion.” (San Francisco: Grey Fox Press, 1993). p. 52.

William S. Burroughs, C. J. Bradbury Robinson, and Williams Mix

Love or hate him, venerate or revile him, the life and work of William Seward Burroughs continues to inspire and intrigue. In addition to “The Work,” since his death in 1997 we have seen further biographies, celebrations, collections of letters, and critical studies, as well as restored and even previously unpublished texts. There has been reassessment and re-examination of various aspects of the life and work, starting with Burroughs and Homosexuality in Jamie Russell’s Queer Burroughs, Burroughs and Literature in Michael Stevens’ The Road to Interpose (an encyclopaedic study of reading Burroughs’ reading” that is surely essential to fan and scholar alike); and more recently, Mayfair Burroughs in the introduction to Graham Masterton’s Rules of Duel. Continue Reading…

Celebrate Jack Kerouac’s Birthday with The Haunted Life

Today is 12th March, and that means it’s Jack Kerouac’s birthday. Every year, people celebrate by embarking upon road trips, holding readings, or just sitting down with a dog-eared copy of On the Road or Big Sur.

In recent years, interest in Kerouac and his work (as well as that of his contemporaries) is strong as ever. We’ve had movies and books continuing his legacy, and in time for his birthday we also have the release of a long-though lost novella, The Haunted Life.

Set in Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, The Haunted Life was written in 1944, following the murder of David Kammerer. As such, this piece of writing comes from an important period in Kerouac’s life. It is also a fascinating insight into the author’s development, as the book is very different to his later works, but not entirely dissimilar to his first novel, The Town and the City.

To read an except, please visit The Guardian’s website. To purchase the book, which also contains notes, letters, and sketches from during its composition, please click the link below…



Kolya Krasotkin Wept

“. . . when the children guitared
At my footbed,
Kolya Krosotkins
of my railroad”i

Kolya Krasotkin, that little son of a provincial secretaryii
Studied the trains
And for two roubles
Flattened himself on the railroad tracks face down
And let the eleven o’clock train pass over him (without touching his small body)
He fainted (confessed only to Mama) and turned white as snow
On that black moonless Russian night
Forever a hero to the other schoolboys
Desperado in rank
For his mad wild pranks
Ilyusha’s papa’s red beard
Dragged from tavern to square
On that terrible whiskbroom day
The sickly boy’s spirit rose
Defending poor Papa
Stones hurled and flew
Alyosha struck and bitten, too
Met the captain, sir, much ado
Shaggy Perezvon renamed
One-eyed tricks, gray Zhuchka dog stay
The boy’s mind tick, tock, ticks
The goosey goose cracked . . . in the peasant market place
A clever boy, intelligent, big-shot brave boy
Fourteen years old (in two weeks)
A socialist and atheist, too
A reader of Voltaire and books
Onegin knows he
Mathematics and world history
Old man, you see,
I’ve come to love thee
And visit your deathbed
Icons, cannon smoke
Karamazov spoke at the stone
The children raised up the little coffin
Bringing bread for the sparrows
So he lay not alone Flowers
Farewell sad little boots
All the boys cried
Kolya wept
If we could resurrect our boy
Grief . . . and pancakes

i Kerouac, Jack. Mexico City Blues, 55th
Chorus. (New York: Grove Press, 1994). p. 55.
ii Dostoevsky, Fyodor. The Brothers Karamazov. (New York: Vintage Classics, 1991).

Beatdom #7 on Kindle

One of our most successful issues of Beatdom was the 7th, released way back in 2010. This was the music-themed issue, and contained some wonderful essays about the influence of music on the Beats, and the influence of the Beats on music. (You can read more in our archives.)

Beatdom #7 has long been out of print, but fear not – it’s back to life on Kindle! That’s right, since Beatdom #10 we have been using Kindle to digitally distribute our magazine, and very slowly we’ve released Beatdom #9 and Beatdom #8 on the same format.

Now Beatdom #7 has joined the list. Take a look: