Remembering writers you haven’t read and
And why Beat generation women still rock
“‘There were women, they were there, I knew them, their families put them in institutions, they were given electric shock. In the 50’s, if you were male, you could be a rebel, but if you were female, your families had you locked up…I knew them. Someday someone will write about them.’”
(Stephen Scobie, quoting Gregory Corso, who was responding to question why there were so few women on the program celebrating Beat writers, 1994)*
The blessed sense of sheer fortune that I had of being a writer in residence in the Kerouac House—I still dream of my feet on those floors, and recall on the edge of waking what it was to open my eyes there—was tethered to a vague sense of obligation to Kerouac’s productivity. I felt I just had to write as much as I could as fast as I could—true to my own voice and whatever being there could inspire in terms of my own feverish pitch, tone, and volume.
But as I stayed there, I had a creeping sense of his shuffling ghost—not haunting the place but haunting me with his words, his regrets, and his horrors, from his DTs in Big Sur to the will-never-leave-me image of his father crying—The Vanity of Duluoz—as he flushed a nest of baby mice he had found in the apartment down the toilet. And as he was the mascot of my residency, and as I was (and am) a woman who believes spirits, ghosts, and the curative power of the word, I wanted to find some ritual of release for him from the traps of his time, a lack of vision, a tone-deafness to the voices of the women around him.
Read the full piece on The Kerouac Project site.