Category Archives: The Beat Generation

Everything Beat Generation! How these great writers lived, loved and traveled in the 40s, 50s, and 60s. Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassady, Gary Snyder, John Clellon Holmes, Gregory Corso…

Biography of Gary Snyder

gary snyder authorAs one of the most famous American poets, Gary Snyder has been linked to the Beat Movement, the Black Mountain Poets and the San Francisco Renaissance. As a lover of nature and Zen Buddhism, Snyder focuses his works around those themes, and dedicates much of his life to environmental activism.

Gary Sherman Snyder was born on May 8, 1930 in San Francisco, California. He grew up on small farms in Washington state and Oregon. At an early age, Snyder became obsessed with nature and angered by the destruction of the Pacific Northwestern forests.

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Biography of Lew Welch

lew welch beat generationAs it happens for many writers and artists, Lew Welch was often marked by uncertainty and conflicted with his role in society. He lacked the ability to meet goals he had set for himself and usually changed them anyway.

He was prone to mental breakdowns from the time he was a baby and suffered with this condition for the rest of his life. Because he lived with such mental turmoil, Lew Welch is another brilliant mind from a brilliant generation to have suffered an early death.

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The Death of Joan Vollmer Adams Burroughs

william s. burroughs shoots wifeDue to trouble with the law, mainly for drug possession and distribution, William S. Burroughs, his wife Joan and their children moved many times, ending up in Mexico City.

One night Bill and Joan attended a party and, while drunk, it is argued that they decided to play a game of William Tell. While accounts of the events and conversations leading up to Joan’s death differ, it is a fact that Bill did attempt to shoot a glass off Joan’s head and missed. Whether or not they had attempted this trick before is also up for debate.

On Sept. 6, 1951, Bill and Joan visited the apartment of John Healy in Mexico City. A few hours later, Joan arrived at Cruz Roja (Red Cross) where medics began emergency life-saving measures for a bullet wound to the head. Joan had been shot by Bill and pronounced dead at the hospital. She was only 28.

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The Truth Behind David Kammerer’s Murder

david kammerer murderIt was because of Lucien Carr that Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs met and became friends. It was also because of Carr that Kerouac and Burroughs became material witnesses in a bizarre murder case. (Kill Your Darlings (2013))

In 1944, Allen Ginsberg met Lucien Carr at Columbia University. Carr was friends with Edie Parker, Jack Kerouac’s girlfriend at the time and it was by his suggestion that Ginsberg meet Kerouac. Carr, who grew up in St. Louis, also knew William S. Burroughs and this connection completed the formation of the famous Beat Trio.

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Documentaries About Jack Kerouac

Jack Kerouac documentariesJack Kerouac was the major figure in a movement that would redefine American literature and social norms. He spent much of the 40s and 50s traveling the United States and Mexico on a journey to discover life outside of the mainstream American values. He is credited with coining the phrase ‘Beat Generation.’

While it’s not always easy to find old footage of Kerouac and the Beat writers, here is a list of some of the best Jack Kerouac documentaries about the famous writer and the countercultural movement he started.

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Documentaries About the Beat Generation

beat generation documentariesSince the Beat Generation refers to a group of writers who were making history over half a century ago, it may be a little difficult to find video footage of them. But here is a list of some of the Beat Generation documentaries that best capture the counter-cultural phenomenon and the people that were involved.

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Important Women Writers of the Beat Generation

women writers of the beat generationWith the rise of the Beat movement and writers like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, women writers of the Beat Generation were often overlooked and ridiculed. But, in the conformist 50s, there was a group of women fighting against the constraints of family and culture as independent writers and artists. They wanted to step out from the shadow of men and share with society their individuality and talents.

As Brenda Knight wrote in Women of the Beat Generation, “In many ways, women of the Beat were cut from the same cloth as the men: fearless, angry, high risk, too smart, restless, highly irregular. They took chances, made mistakes, made poetry, made love, made history.”

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The San Francisco Beat Writers

San Francisco Beat WritersWhile it is said that Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs and Neal Cassady are the original Beat writers, there are a number of other key figures that would cause the movement to explode across the nation.

Kerouac and the Beats spent a lot of their time bouncing around the States, between New York and San Francisco. While on the west coast, they met a few other poets who were making waves and bonds were quickly formed.

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The Beat Generation in New York

Beat Generation in New YorkIn the mid 1940s, a group of writers came together in New York City. Hanging around Times Square, writing about drugs, homosexuality and alternative forms of spirituality, these artists pushed the limits of what was socially acceptable in the conformist 40s and 50s.

They were the friends, inspirations and muses to great writers like Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, and they helped forge a countercultural movement that would become know as The Beat Generation.

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The Women Behind the Beat Writers

omen beat writersAlthough the Beat Generation was most famously known for its male writers, artists and poets, there was also a group of women who played a major part in the movement and the lives of great men like Jack Kerouac, William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady.

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The Original Beat Writers

beat writersIn the mid 1940s, a group of writers that would spawn one of the biggest cultural movements of the 20th century came together in New York City. Writing about drugs, homosexuality and alternative forms of spirituality, these Beat writers pushed the limits of what was socially acceptable in the conformist 40s and 50s.

The core group of these influential writers were Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Neal Cassady and William S. Burroughs.

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