Thursday, December 10, 2009

Big Sur & Take Me To Your Jack Kerouac

I just finished reading Big Sur. Jack Kerouac is one of my favorite authors. But Big Sur is very different from his other writings. It was written years after On The Road was published (the book that sent him into instant fame as The King of The Beats). Everyone wanted to be around him after that--strangers would come to his mothers house and knock on the door, hoop and holler looking for their "hero". For a sensitive introvert, this was all too much for him. He escaped to the West Coast to stay in a cabin in Big Sur, but insanity took him over and his longing for bright lights and good times proved to be too much in his tender soul. So he set out to hitch hike to Frisco, it was the last time Jack ever hitch hiked, with no ride, things were different, instead of flat bed trucks stopping to pick him and his bottle up on an open prairie under the stars like in On The Road, droves of station wagons with nice little vacationing families afraid of axe murderers passed him by. This resulted in bleeding blisters and agony, until a pickup truck had mercy on him and took him to the bus stop in Monterey. But he alternates between the wild times of the city and returning to the cabin. In each chapter he constantly foreshadows going insane, completely loosing it. It's very sad. And you want to reach through the book and shake him, and ask him, can't you see Jack? It is you, you who are allowing yourself to go insane, by what you are doing, you need to sit with the agony, pen it down, let it break like a fever--then you will be ok and go on to write something so grand that makes us smile again.

I recently got a rejection letter from The Atlantic Monthly for five poems I had sent in. It was very upsetting at first. But I have to remember that Robert Frost got rejected by The Atlantic several times before getting published. I found an article in their magazine on-line that talked about new authors. They said that you cannot teach writing, you are either born with the gift or are not. They talked about writing more slowly though, of mulling over your work. I found myself the last few years trying to write like Jack, just going at it and not caring so much about taking it slow with intention. So I'm taking that advice now--trying to write slowly, to change words, capitalise, punctuate, to be gentle with laying down what it is that I have to say. Like all things worth undertaking in this world, writers must evolve too--and learn the rules and grow.

"Desolation Angel"

Ah what happened to the On The Road Days...
Why so desolate Jack? What did they do to your mind man?
Did you get tired of them following you through your private life?
Did they sabotage your tender moments...your cat...your sweet ma?
They used you, so tossed and turned you, some broke your heart,
with the uglinesses that can exist in life, the ones you and I
would rather not see. We would like to think of them
as fictional creatures, like the Loch ness monster, or Big Foot.
They do not exist or reside in the souls of men, they are only in our minds,
right Jack? Right?
But it broke you into sweating in that sleeping bag.
Sweating out your poor insanity of all the years after The Road.
I know it broke the bottle in your belly.
Like I said, I woulda given you a ride on that lonely road
from Big Sur to Monterey,
but seems to me maybe we could all use a ride ourselves,
and should leave you alone for a change.

--Jenny Miller

1 comment:

Laura said...

Gold, dear Pippi. Pure gold.