Herbert Huncke – Times Square Superstar
May29

Herbert Huncke – Times Square Superstar

by Spencer Kansa.   I first met Herbert Huncke in the Spring of 1992, during a layover in New York, en route to visiting William Burroughs at his home in Lawrence, Kansas. Shortly after my Manhattan arrival, I received a phone call at my hotel from Burroughs’ consigliere, James Grauerholz, who graciously welcomed me to America. During our conversation, I joked how I’d been hanging around Times Square, looking for Huncke,...

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Down These Mean Streets: Raymond Chandler’s L.A.
Mar29

Down These Mean Streets: Raymond Chandler’s L.A.

by Chris Dickerson   Certain cities belong to a few writers. They may not own the towns exclusively, but they’ve put their stamp on them so indelibly in their books and stories that anybody who writes about the places after them can’t help but live in their shadow. Dashiell Hammett long ago claimed San Francisco. Those chilly, fog-wreathed sidewalks where Sam Spade pursues the elusive Maltese Falcon reek of Prohibition Era...

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Brother-Souls: John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation
Mar26

Brother-Souls: John Clellon Holmes, Jack Kerouac, and the Beat Generation

We recently passed a watershed moment in modern American literature, as November, 2012, marked sixty years since John Clellon Holmes introduced the term “Beat Generation” in the New York Times Magazine. To many, this is the sum of all Holmes is known for. His seminal Beat novel Go, also published sixty years ago (five years ahead of Jack Kerouac‘s On the Road), still remains in the shadow of Kerouac’s first book about...

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The Voice is All: Joyce Johnson Talks about Her Latest Book
Mar15

The Voice is All: Joyce Johnson Talks about Her Latest Book

Joyce Johnson’s role in Beat history is too often viewed simply as that of Jack Kerouac’s girlfriend. There is surprise when one first learns that she was a novelist in her own right and at the disdain for her position as a scholar of the Beat Generation. She is derided as “milking” her brief relationship with Kerouac. The irony is that her book, Minor Characters, brought to light some of the experiences of the women of the Beat...

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Jack Kerouac’s Poetry—Where is the Gold, if There’s Gold?
Mar06

Jack Kerouac’s Poetry—Where is the Gold, if There’s Gold?

This paper is a short inquiry into the quality of Jack Kerouac’s poetry. Kerouac is an American writer who has maintained an enduring hold on succeeding generations of readers through his long prose works, such as On the Road and The Dharma Bums.  He wrote numerous books of poetry, approaching the art seriously and passionately. Many of his poetry manuscripts, unable to find a home while he was alive, have been published since his...

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American Zen
Feb21

American Zen

Zen Buddhism is nearly impossible to write about. The use of words and logic to explain Zen are in opposition to its nature, one free of such restrictions. The question then arises: how can we know the principles of Zen if we can’t directly talk about them? The solution is that we study the principals of Zen, which are contrivances, to forget them in order to move closer to Zen. The point of such a contradictory exercise is to provide...

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Somebody Blew Up America: A Conversation with Amiri Baraka
Feb12

Somebody Blew Up America: A Conversation with Amiri Baraka

This interview originally appeared in Beatdom #12 – the CRIME issue. You can purchase it on Amazon and Kindle.   Amiri Baraka is Beat. He walked away from the scene in Greenwich Village, where he edited literary journals Yugen, Kulchur, and The Floating Bear from 1958-65. Working with Hettie Cohen, Michael John Fles, and Diane Di Prima, respectively, the journals brought new works by new names. Featured writers included...

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The Beat Rap Sheet
Dec22

The Beat Rap Sheet

But yet, but yet, woe, woe unto those who think that the Beat Generation means crime, delinquency, immorality, amorality … woe unto those who attack it on the grounds that they simply don’t understand history and the yearning of human souls … woe in fact unto those who those who make evil movies about the Beat Generation where innocent housewives are raped by beatniks! … woe unto those who spit on the Beat...

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