The Beat Generation YouTube Collection

The three giants of Beat poetry are Ginsberg, Burroughs and Kerouac, all of whom I deeply respect, love and attempt to emulate. But in addition to these legends, I’d like to include Charles Bukowski (the man who pushed me to write) and Henry Miller, at least for the purpose of this article.

 

Below are a number of video links featuring the five authors I’ve mentioned. As I said, Ginsberg, Burroughs and Kerouac are obvious choices, but I included Bukowski because he reads with disgustingly raw emotion; emotion dominated by insecurity, drunken arrogance and most importantly, an absolute need to write. His unquestionable love for the printed word is always visible, and to me, that’s a large part of beat poetry; the necessary feeling of expression no matter how vulnerable it leaves you.

 

And then there’s Henry Miller. A man who fulfilled the same internal craving to write and relished in the opportunity to carve his name into stone with a pen. An abnormal choice for beat poetry, but a titanic force of imagination and another voice who refused to go unheard. The spirit to make a difference no matter how much work it takes is a quality that screams “beat” to me. Hopefully it does to you too.

 

 

 

 

Charles Bukowski

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=pM0YwgaFLJM

 

Here’s a meaty, hour long black and white video of Buk reading at Bellevue in 1970. At this point he was 50 and had yet to write his first novel, Post Office, which would come out the following year. He had, however, written 14 collections of poetry, including the great The Days Run Away Like Wild Horses Over the Hills, which was released in 1969. The video is fairly low quality, but the audio is great and perfectly reflects his usual tone and pace.

 

At about 8:50, he begins talking about a skid row in Los Angeles and says, “Not a nice place to have a typewriter, and no place is really nice unless you have a typewriter. You can do without a woman, but you can’t do without a typewriter.” Not too many quotes sum up the beauty of Bukowski quite like that one.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=DhM-Dm2PHHo

 

Here’s a reading of “the laughing heart” by Tom Waits and “roll the dice” by Bono. I personally prefer Tom’s reading, but Bono does a decent job.

 

Two great poems in Buk’s familiar advice-heavy style. He may always be talking about himself, but he never forgets about his audience.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=70avXeLjDgQ

 

“What is your definition of love?”

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LJw4Xd952_g&feature=related

 

Here, Buk discusses people. “Two inches is great, two miles is great, two thousands miles is beautiful.” A completely misanthropic statement, but like I said earlier, one probably stemming from insecurity. Words appeared to always be his best friend.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5xMTlh9SJ2U&feature=related

 

An amusing clip of Buk drunk on French television, one he was unable to finish.

 

 

 

William S. Burroughs

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=6NU3dIdqIBw

 

Here, Burroughs, and others, discuss the outrageously beautiful idea that is The Cut-Up. For any of you unaware of the method (which is very open for interpretation), I strongly encourage you to watch this, for it will squash writer’s block like nothing you’ve met before.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fNvOUtbmsdE

 

Here is an in-depth, almost 90 minute film on the life of Burroughs and his unforgettably raspy, monotone voice (oh yes, and maniacal style of writing/life).

 

Just a side note– the song which begins this film is “Another Green World” by Brian Eno, who may not be a beatnik, but is one hell of a genius.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=fOb4j5v-s48&feature=related

 

A clip on Burroughs from a film on Allen Ginsberg entitled “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg”.

 

 

Allen Ginsberg

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=xiH9QZzGc_s

 

Here’s another short clip from “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg” featuring Ginsberg and Bob Dylan.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K12z2VFmVc8

 

Ginsberg speaks upon offensive language on the TV show “Firing Line” hosted by William Buckley in 1968.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=sCWbVl4IKpU&feature=related

 

Another clip from “Firing Line” where Ginsberg reads a poem he wrote under the influence of LSD.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=afAAltAmIzA

 

Ginsberg singing a beautifully sad piece (accompanied by a lap organ) called “Father Death Blues”, inspired by the death of his Father in 1978.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=WYYZBGJVJkk

 

One last clip from “The Life and Times of Allen Ginsberg”, where he speaks inside the City Lights Bookstore in 1965.

 

You can purchase the movie here:

http://allenginsbergmovie.com/

 

 

 

Jack Kerouac

 

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hJo-7Ui60l8

 

A clip of Kerouac reading an excerpt from “On the Road”, accompanied by light piano. Here he reads with calm confidence and honesty.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=R0KluIXx6fI&feature=related

 

Drunken, loud Kerouac embarrassing himself on “Firing Line”.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=kOMyzslIP-o

 

Another television appearance featuring a belligerent and entertaining Kerouac.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EQoDA62NVG0

 

Here’s a brief clip of Kerouac speaking over footage of him shooting pool.

 

“Now it’s jazz. The place is roaring. All beautiful girls in there. One mad brunette at the bar, drunk with her boys.”

 

 

 

Henry Miller

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=rJHmzWDgG-c

 

A clip of Miller, later in his life, discussing death, life, dreams and the world with Anaïs Nin.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EMrlb7Pmick

 

A clip on French television, featuring Miller speaking in French, discussing why he chose to leave America and what he thought about it upon return.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IO2c1Kodmrc

 

A nice, 7:30 clip of Miller reading from “The Tailor Shop”, a short story from the book Black Spring, published in 1936. Two years prior he wrote the genius Tropic of Cancer and three years later he’d write The Tropic of Capricorn.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=bn542BUEnbg

 

14 minutes of Miller speaking in an interview, featuring candid footage.

 

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ylsqjnjdzds

 

More candid footage of Miller speaking over dinner and wine with friends. A long, casual half an hour clip unlike most other videos available.

David S. Wills

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David S. Wills is the founder and editor of Beatdom literary journal and the author of Scientologist! William S. Burroughs the Weird Cult. He travels a lot and currently lectures in China. He also runs an ESL website. You can read more about and by David at his blog, www.davidswills.com or on Tumblr.

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