Today, I am trying to get through “The Portable Beat Reader” which chronicles the works of Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, and also includes the West Coast Beats of Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Lew Welch and others. This is mandatory reading for my Advanced Creative Writing Class.
Like many of you, I was first introduced to Beatniks via Dobie Gillis and Maynard G. Krebs. Turns out this was already past the Beat Generation. Dobie Gillis aired from 1959-1963 whereas the Beat writers popularity started around 1946 through the 1950’s.
This book was my first exposure to the anthem of this generation, “On the Road” by Jack Kerouac, which I found odd and compelling at the same time. Brilliant writing but somewhere way out there in the stratosphere. Same thing with Allen Ginsberg and “Howl”, oddly disturbing but like a train wreck, you have to keep reading. The theme that I have taken away from reading the Beat writers is that first and foremost, they all wrote while on drugs, and secondly, they paved the way for the tumultuous decade to follow; the 1960’s. With their long rambling prose poetry they railed against the status quo and questioned everything that came before them. They protested war even before it was fashionable to do so, and also turned their backs on the exploding commercialism following World War II. Bravo, Beat Writers!
Anyone like to chime in on this topic?