Archives For February 2018

“A Fleeting Moment in a Floating World”: The Women of the Beat Generation Through Allen Ginsberg’s Eyes

“The whole Beat scene had very little to do with the participation of women as artists themselves.

The real communication was going on between the men,

and the women were there as onlookers…

You kept you mouth shut,

and if you were intelligent and interested in

things you might pick up what you could.

It was a very masculine aesthetic.”[1]

-Joyce Johnson



Inception: Recognizing Absence

“The poignancy of the photograph comes from looking back to a fleeting moment in a floating world.”[2] Upon Allen Ginsberg’s reflection on nearly a lifetime of capturing photographs, his remark seems most fitting when considering those less visible, but equally significant writers of the Beat Generation. Gazing through Ginsberg’s lens of cultural history exposes complex narratives, both fleeting and lasting, of nonconformity, rebellion, and artistic spirit. Though it also reveals a powerful void; an absence of silence and omission. At a time when women’s independence was either limited or non-existent, such spaces enveloped female artists striving for personal freedom amid male dominated society. The women of the Beat Generation were active counterparts within this subculture, yet their lack of visual representation exposes a fissure in Ginsberg’s photography. Continue Reading…

Last Call for Submissions

There’s one week left until the deadline for Beatdom #19 – the ASIA issue. We are still looking for essays, interviews, fiction, poetry, art, etc etc. relating to the Beats and the topic of Asia. For example, we’d consider essays talking about Kerouac’s interest in Buddhism, Snyder’s time in Japan, Kyger’s travels in India, and Ginsberg’s visit to Cambodia. These are just some of the many, many possibilities.

If you have an idea in mind but think it might take you more time, let me know in an e-mail to As long as we hear from you before March 1st, we can consider work that is submitted a little late.

Here is some more information, and these are the submission guidelines.

Some Advice for Students

The Beat Generation was an important literary and cultural movement and, as such, it is often taught and studied in educational institutions around the world. Students from middle school to university are writing reports and essays on books like Jack Kerouac’s On the Road, and barely a week goes by that I don’t receive an e-mail from a curious student asking my opinion on the direction of their studies or looking for information about an obscure character in a Kerouac novel. While I’m happy to answer any questions about the Beats, I thought I’d put together a short guide for students just beginning their Beat studies. Continue Reading…

Review: Summer of Crud

Summer of Crud is a coming-of-age story that takes place on a road trip across America. It makes reference on a few occasions to the Beats and in fact appears to be an attempt to update Kerouac’s On the Road for the 21st century. However, while not a terrible novel, it certainly is no modern classic. Continue Reading…

Renegade Dreamers

Karen Kramer lives a stone’s throw from the intersection of Bleecker and MacDougal streets in Greenwich Village and has always been drawn to the Beat history that came out of that small crossroads. Her new documentary, Renegade Dreamers, celebrates the Beat and folk history that was born in the coffee houses of that legendary neighborhood and how it influenced a nation. Continue Reading…

Neal Cassady – 50 Years Since His Death

Today is the fiftieth anniversary of Neal Cassady’s death. The Beat Generation icon is best-known as the inspiration for Dean Moriarty in Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. However, although that portrayal of him will forever remain the definitive one, there was more to this man than Kerouac’s classic presents. Even a cursory glance at Kerouac’s other books show a more complex individual, and that’s before we get into recollections by his ex-wife Carolyn, or other friends and acquaintances like Allen Ginsberg, who knew both the man and the myth. Continue Reading…