Alison Flood (The Guardian) reports that Neal Cassady’s letter will be auctioned at Christie’s, after a tour from Seattle to New York
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A letter from Neal Cassady to Jack Kerouac, which inspired the spontaneous style of On the Road and was described by Kerouac as “enough to make Melville, Twain … I dunno who, spin in their graves”, is to go up for auction later this month for the second time in less than two years. (more…)

On poetry and the dissemination of marginalised voices

“Ferlinghetti calls to the poet-reader, addressing them as Whitman, Dickinson, Edna St. Vincent Millay, etc. — all famous writers, some of them queer. And that’s maybe apt, as it’s long been queer writers who have made the case for poetry as activism — even today, when their voices might no longer seem necessary and poetry is sometimes a punchline. Because even as their stories creep in from the margins, queer lives are not transformed into fairytales by marriage equality and the cooption of drag culture. Queer voices must still be heard, and poetry’s tradition of tribal truth-telling always has and continues to make it the perfect tool for the dissemination of those voices.”

More at Flavorwire.

Recorded images of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and other Beat writers in New York’s East Village, 1959. (Source: Open Culture)

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William S. Burroughs in Paris

From BBC Radio 4:

Think of American writers in Paris and the chances are the first people to come to mind are the Lost Generation of the 1920s – Fitzgerald, Hemingway, Stein and friends. But a period every bit as significant in the development of American letters and the culture more broadly is often overlooked. (more…)

A new title from Harper Perennial
The Essential Ginsberg
The Essential Ginsberg, ed. Michael Schumacher

Featuring the legendary and groundbreaking poem “Howl,” this remarkable volume showcases a selection of Allen Ginsberg’s poems, songs, essays, letters, journals, and interviews, and contains sixteen pages of his personal photographs.

One of the Beat Generation’s most renowned poets and writers, Allen Ginsberg became internationally famous not only for his published works but also for his actions as a human rights activist who championed the sexual revolution, gay liberation, Buddhism and Eastern religion, and the confrontation of societal norms—all before it became fashionable to do so. He was also the dynamic leader of war protesters, artists, Flower Power hippies, musicians, punks, and political radicals. (more…)

Why read a ‘difficult’ book?
Emily Temple (Flavorwire) has compiled a list of ’50 Incredibly Tough Books for Extreme Readers’. Their toughness varies from the sheer bulk of the volume (eg. Tolstoy’s War and Peace and Stein’s The Making of Americans), to their stylistic virtuosity (Finnegans Wake, anyone?). But despite their daunting reputations, there can be something special about reading a ‘difficult’ book.

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