Jack Kerouac, born March 12, 1922, an American novelist and poet, he was a pioneer of the beat generation alongside other members such as Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs. Considered a literary iconoclast, Kerouac’s writings were most recognized for the spontaneous method covering a wide variety of topics such as his travels, Jazz, Drugs, and Buddhism only to name a few. His more notorious works include titles such as Visions of Cody, On the Road, Mexico City Blues, The Dharma Bums, a much more.
Kerouac was born in Lowell, Massachusetts, to French-Canadian parents, and spoke the French-Canadian dialect Joual until he learned English at age six. As a child, Kerouac was heavily devoted to his mother who played an important role instilling religious beliefs, which can be seen throughout his works. At the age of four, he was heavily affected by the death of his brother (age nine) from Rheumatic Fever. His skills as a running back for his high school football team landed him a few scholarship offers from Notre Dame, Boston College, and Columbia University, though out of the three, he chose Columbia University. While attending the university, Kerouac broke his Tibia in his freshman season, forcing him to sit on the bench. It was also said that he would have several arguments with his coach. For the University’s newspaper, Kerouac wrote several sports articles. He later dropped out of the university when his experience began to turn south.
Kerouac’s first novel, titled The Town and The City, was written in Queens, New York, and soon after began writing On the Road soon after. His first book, published under the name John Kerouac, sold poorly while gaining a few respectable reviews. He finished his novel On the Road in 1951 and it was published in 1957 by Viking Press. The novel is largely autobiographical, and details spontaneous road trips of Kerouac and his friends, across America. The success of the novel brought Kerouac into immediate fame. Among his novel bibliography Kerouac has much poetry to his name. He performed his works as Spoken word and created a new definition to the American haiku, which is not difficult, but were simple and as “quick breaths” or just witty, honest, abstract or even glum. An example of Kerouac’s Haiku may be found below.
Below are some samples of Kerouac’s work through spoken word videos and Pacifica Radio Podcasts.
From The Vault: The Beat Generation featuring Jack Kerouac.
Jack Kerouac: Fragments
Jack Kerouac Reads
Jack Kerouac/The Beat Generation