‘The Beat Generation’ is in focus at college on April 22
RANDOLPH TWP. — The Legacy Project at County College of Morris (CCM) will host a forum on the influential Beat Generation from 12:30 to 1:45 p.m. on Tuesday, April 22 on the Center Grove Road campus.
The forum, Women of the Beat Generation, will feature author Joyce Johnson and poet Hettie Jones, two significant Beat generation figures.
Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac!
While the men of the Beat Generation are often guilty of perpetuating the same misogyny of the larger culture, both in their lives and their writing, in challenging traditional expectations of masculinity, and likewise gender, they opened up a space for women to do the same. Kerouac’s “On the Road” may have driven many young men to emulate his movement across the country, but is also inspired many young women to challenge what was expected of them.
As Joyce Johnson writes in Minor Characters: “It was a time when books were still taken seriously, when writers could actually change things. In 1957, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac seemed to come from nowhere… They gave voice to the restlessness and spiritual discontent so many felt but had been unable to articulate. Powerful desires for a freer life were suddenly set loose by words with compelling irresistible rhythms. The Beat movement lasted five years and caused many young men to go on the road in emulation of Jack Kerouac. Young women found the pursuit of freedom much more complicated. Nonetheless, it was my revolution.”
Recently Johnson has written a critical biography of Kerouac that explores his French Canadian roots and the development of his literary voice: The Voice is All: The Lonely Victory of Jack Kerouac.
Meet the Beats: Jay DeFeo
Jay DeFeo is one of the visual artists of the Beat Generation. Born in Hanover, NH, Jay moved to CA at a young age where she attended the University of California, Berkeley. Most well known for her work “the Rose,” she created an extensive body of work comprised of drawings, paintings, photos and photo collages. DeFeo and her contemporaries often relied on cheap paints, plasters, butcher paper, and other accessible materials to create their work.
In the early 1950s, Jay traveled throughout Europe and North Africa before settling back into the San Francisco art scene where she dedicated eight years of her life to completing “the Rose.” DeFeo was the subject of a recent retrospective at the Whitney Museum of American Art, and her life and work have been explored in several recent publications like Jay DeFeo and the Rose and Jay DeFeo: Chiaroscuro.
Several of her pieces are also featured in the Wennesland Collection, the largest collection of San Francisco Beat art, which is housed in Kristiansand, Norway. For more information on the collection and the San Francisco Beat art scene, check out these texts by Frida Forsgren: San Francisco Beat Art in Norway and Beat Lives.
SFMOMA | Jay DeFeo on the artists' community in San Francisco in the 1950s
Female beat artist Jay DeFeo talks about the San Francisco artist communities in the 1950s.
One of many informative and interesting videos included on the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art’s website.
when you break thru
a poet here
not quite what one would choose.
I won’t promise
you’ll never go hungry
or that you won’t be sad
on this gutted
but I can show you
enough to love
to break your heart
Jack Kerouac in Greenwich Village, New York, October 1958.
Photo by Jerry Yulsam.
And don’t forget Joyce Johnson standing coolly in the background - Writer and author of Come and Join the Dance in 1961 and later her memoir about women of the Beat Generation, “Minor Characters”
Reblogging this from my personal blog (IrresponsibleWanderlustoftheSoul) to expand on a comment I made there. This post has many reblogs, and I have often seen the photo circulated before, but I rarely notice mention of the woman who stands in the background - elided, it would seem, by the presence of the iconic male figure that this is a photo of. The woman as I have pointed out above is Joyce Johnson. In fact, this is the image that you will find on the cover of the Penguin edition of Minor Characters and she writes about it in the foreward:
"In a Gap ad for khakis, I came upon Jack Kerouac posed on a warm September night outside a bar on MacDougal Street called the Kettle of Fish. Part of the original shot had been cropped away. In it, well out of the foreground, arms folded, dressed in black of course, with a look on her face that suggests waiting, you would have found and anonymous young woman. It was strange to know everything about the woman who wasn’t there, strange to be alive and to be a legened’s ghost."
Strange that even when the image is whole and uncropped, Johnson remains the “woman who wasn’t there… a legend’s ghost.”