The Beat movement exploded into American culture in the early 1950s with the force of prophecy. Not just another literary school, it was an artistic and social revolution. William S. Burroughs proclaimed that the Beat writers were “real architects of change. There is no doubt that we’re living in a freer America as a result of the Beat literary movement, which is an important part of the larger picture of cultural and political change in this country during the last forty years, when a four-letter word couldn’t appear on the printed page and minority rights were ridiculous.”
Anne Waldman, a renowned poet and longtime friend of many of these writers, has gathered in this volume a range of the best and most exemplary writings of the Beat poets and novelists. Selections from the Beat classics appear, as well as more recent prose and poetry demonstrating the continued vitality of the Beat experiment. Included are short biographies of the contributors, an extensive bibliography of Beat literature, and a unique guide to “Beat places” around the world—from Kerouac’s hometown of Lowell, Massachusetts, where his novel Dr. Sax takes place, to Tangier, where Burroughs wrote parts of Naked Lunch.
“The Beats, that is, Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William Burroughs, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, and Michael McClure, to name a core group, are finally being accorded the attention they deserve; they constituted, after all, a major, lastingly influential arts movement. . . . The fact that Waldman’s book is of such high quality is no surprise; a poet herself, she cofounded the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics in Boulder, Colorado.”—Booklist