Famous Writers Who Didn’t Like Kerouac

Jack Kerouac was a huge inspiration for Bob Dylan, the winner of the 2016 Nobel Prize for Literature, and a host of other important writers and artists over the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries. His magnum opus, On the Road, was one of the most important cultural events in American history, spurring a revolution in literature and effectively creating a counterculture that would shape art and politics for decades to come. Yet Kerouac was not universally loved – in fact, even among his fellow writers, he was often disliked or disrespected. Continue Reading…

Review: Tales of Ordinary Sadness

Tales of Ordinary Sadness is a collection of fifteen short stories by Neil Randall, and its title is a reference to Charles Bukowski’s short story collection, Tales of Ordinary Madness. Sadness certainly is the theme of the collection, with each story acting as a study in the more depressing areas of modern life – this is a writer not afraid to deal with addiction, abuse, poverty, or disease. Randall provides an uncanny insight into the pitiful conditions of working class Britain in the twenty-first century, exploring how things got so bad. Continue Reading…

Turtle Island: An Eco-Critique of Capitalism

In the modern era the sustainability of both our daily lives and global systems has become an increasingly important issue. The world finds itself in sight of, and surpassing, certain “planetary boundaries” which mark the limits of a planet which will continue to be inhabitable by humans.[1] These boundaries include ocean acidification, climate change, and biodiversity loss, and they mark a complete break from planetary sustainability. Although personal choice and advancement in resource production may take some steps towards a sustainable future many critics have noted that the blame can be placed primarily on the dominant economic system, capitalism (Foster, 18). For this reason, among others, environmental concerns have increasingly entered into the political sphere. Continue Reading…

Call for Submissions: Beatdom #18

We are now open to submissions for Beatdom #18. The topic is FAMILY – meaning that we will consider essays, short stories, poetry, and artwork relating to the Beat Generation and the subject of family. We are willing to consider the topic in the widest sense, but if you have something slightly outside of the idea of family, please send us a query before submitting any work. Preference will be given to submissions that are on-topic, and as always we devote 80% of page space to essays. We pay $50 for all essays published in the journal. We will be reading submissions from now until March 1st, 2017. See the submissions page for more information.

What Should We Write About For Beatdom #18?

It is time to choose the topic for the next issue of Beatdom, and in keeping with the way we’ve made this decision in previous years, we’re going to ask our readers for ideas. Please respond in the comment section below, on our Facebook page, on Twitter, or in the Goodreads discussion group. Or, if you prefer to do it privately, you can e-mail the editor. Continue Reading…

William S. Burroughs’ Chinese Covers

In the past few weeks we’ve brought you book covers from the Chinese translations of Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg.  While many were shocked to see how popular Kerouac has become in the notoriously censorious communist nation, few were surprised that Ginsberg’s work is harder to find – particularly in translation. Burroughs lies somewhere between the two – not nearly as popular as Kerouac, but a little more so than Ginsberg. This perhaps demonstrates that the barrier Ginsberg’s work may have faced in reaching a Chinese readership may not be due to homosexuality, drug use, or even profanity. As we can see below, Burroughs’ novels Naked Lunch and Queer have both been translated into Chinese, and are available on the Chinese version of Amazon. I believe Ginsberg’s politics were more likely the issue. Continue Reading…

Allen Ginsberg’s Chinese Translations

Last week, I updated an old post on Chinese translations of Jack Kerouac’s novels. The article proved surprisingly popular, in fact knocking our website out temporarily after seeing 33,000 visitors in just three hours! I will try to keep it up-to-date in future, as it seems every year China gets a new translation of a Kerouac novel. Continue Reading…

New Allen Ginsberg Readings on YouTube

I heard recently that a friend of a friend, owner of a cassette recording of Allen Ginsberg reading from 1964, had converted the recording and uploaded it to YouTube. The recording is below, cut into four sections. It was recorded at Better Books in London. Included are the following poems, along with some fascinating/humorous commentary from Ginsberg.  Continue Reading…

Chinese Kerouac Covers

Jack Kerouac‘s novels, particularly On the Road, are popular all around the world. When Allen Ginsberg arrived in China in 1984, he was surprised to find Kerouac’s name on the tip of Chinese tongues around the university campuses. When Beatdom editor, David S. Wills, first visited China in 2008, he found Kerouac’s books on street corners and in bookstores across the country. Even his favorite bar was a tip of the cap to Kerouac. Its name was 在路上 – lit. “on the road”. Continue Reading…

Ginsberg and the Machinery of Capitalism: A Political Reading of Howl

In this essay, I use a Marxist lens to examine Allen Ginsberg’s controversial and groundbreaking 1956 poem, Howl. Ginsberg, I argue, was surprisingly sensitive to the politics of class in this poem, setting up a dual class system which divided those who were part of Moloch from the “angelheaded hipsters,” who I argue were analogous to Marx’s proletariat. Ginsberg imagined himself as a revolutionary leader for the class of people oppressed by Moloch, who, like Marx’s proletariat, were working together towards the goal of a political revolution. Ginsberg’s angelheaded hipsters were oppressed by Moloch, Ginsberg’s trope for the machinery of Capitalism, which I explore along two political axes: sexual conformity and psychiatry. Continue Reading…