Jack life on October21, 1969, in St. Petersburg
Jack Kerouac was a poet who focused on the forgotten people of the world.Wherever he traveled he found the places nobody wanted to find and turned theun-pretty into magnificent poetry. Kerouac used the people no one wanted toremember and turned them into poetic works of art. Jack Kerouacs life wasfilled with adventure and self-destruction. Born on March 12, 1922, Kerouac grewup in the poor city of Lowell, Massachusetts.
His life was tormented withpoverty and alcoholism, first by his father, then he himself was afflicted bythe deadly disease. At the age of 8, Kerouac lost his brother, Gerard to typhoidfever. Kerouac traveled hitchhike style across the country. In 1943, Kerouac wasa kitchen boy on a US Navy patrol boat. He enlisted in the Navy as a reaction toPearl Harbor; he quickly got sick of the Army life and war, but was highlyamused by the bottle, which was deemed the sailors eternal comfort.
In 1957,Kerouacs book, On the Road was published. It is disturbing and powerful,but not over done, bursting with juvenile grace, distraught depravity, seriousquestions and severe hangovers, cheap philosophy and smoking jalopies. (AnnCharters.) Sadly after his bought with alcoholism he lost his life on October21, 1969, in St. Petersburg Florida. From the beginning of his life, JackKerouac was interested in writing.
Kerouacs first inspiration was the radioshow, The Shadow. Later in life he would model himself after Thomas Wolfe.In high school Kerouac was a star football player and got a scholarship toColumbia University to play on the football team. His family followed him toQueens New York and eventually Kerouac dropped out of college, shortly after hisfather had lost his business. After disappointing the father who has so recentlydisappointed him, his father sunk into an alcoholic depression.
Kerouac thenentered the military. When he wasnt sailing he would hang out with people hisparents did not like, outcast Columbia students, Allen Ginsberg and LucienCarr, an older businessman, William S. Burroughs, and a street cowboy fromDenver Colorado, Neal Cassidy. Jack Kerouac started the Beat Generation, hepenned the name, and he was one of the Beat poets/writers, along with AllenGinsberg. When On the Road was published, Kerouac had found a new status as acelebrity. His sudden celebrity status was probably one of the worst things thatcould have happened to him, because his moral and spiritual decline in the nextfew years was shocking. To live up to the wild image he gave himself in On theRoad, Kerouac developed a detrimental drinking habit that changed his naturalbrightness and aged him prematurely.
Kerouac was incredibly unhappy with his newlife as a celebrity. His life ended October 21, 1969 at the age of 47. JackKerouacs poems, Women, Hymn, and HitchHiker, are all represented by the themethat Kerouac wrote about the forgotten people. The poem Women, deals withKerouacs theme of writing about the unnoticed. This is a very simple example.Kerouac is acknowledging that women are great, but he is also observing how thewoman walks, very motion filled movements.
The last stanza, A handkerchief inthe / Wind, is describing how the women swings when she walks, very softlylike a handkerchief being moved in the wind. In the poem Hymn, Kerouac watcheshow the people of Brooklyn react to the ice that God created. He noticed howpeople were slipping on the ice, but not once, twice, probably in closeproximity to each other.
He also noticed in the line, two different people /came over, goin to work, / so earnest and tryful that people were trying sohard to avoid slipping on ice, and when they did slip, they had troubleregaining their balance. The second part of the poem, Kerouac is speaking ofwhat God taught him. God allowed Kerouac to cry. God taught him how to cry.
Kerouac later goes on to say that no one would have cared if he cried, And meleaning on the lamppost wiping / eyes, / eyes, / nobodys known Id cried /or woulda cared anyway, and he thanks God for letting him realize this insideof himself. Kerouac also makes a statement about his life, I knew God You / hadbetter plans than that / So whatever plan you have for me / Splitter of majesty/ Make it short / Brief / Make it snappy / bring me home to the Eternal Mother /today It is as if Kerouac is waiting for his death. He is foreshadowing on hisfuture, the line Make is snappy, shows that he is waiting for his deathand wants to go home with the eternal mother. Most human beings are not deepenough to understand a poem like this, none-the-less write a poem on such atopic.
The words that he uses are perfect, he describes what he is seeing, invery little words, but immense detail. The poem Hitchhiker, is on a subject mostpeople stray from, the art of hitchhiking. The first stanza makes reference tothe flock to California during the 1930s. Since Kerouac was born in 1922, hewas a teenager during the Great Depression. This poem might be a reference towhat he saw going on when the Oakies moved westward towards the Pacific.
Thispoem also seems to dictate what Kerouac, himself, went through while he washitchhiking across the country, headed for the west coast. The part of the poem,starting with the second stanza, Boom. Its the awful raincoat / making melook like a self- / defeated imaginary gangster, / an idiot in a rueful coat,how can they understand / my damp packs, speaks of how people rejected theidea of people hitchhiking. The men in the car, speaking to each other aretalking of how the hitchhikers might be a danger to them, they say that, Helooks like hes got a gun / underneath that IRA coat.
The reference thatKerouac is making when the man mentioned the IRA coat, that he would take theirmoney, like the IRA does, then murder them. While I had trouble searching forcritical reviews, I did find one woman, Ann Charters, who speaks of how JackKerouacs poetry and books have changed her life for the better. Ann Chartersmade it part of her career to edit and put together Kerouacs poetry for theworld to enjoy. Kerouac is most famous for On the Road, which has beentranslated into several languages. One other critic that I found was Phoebe LouAdams, a writer for The Atlantic Monthly stated that Mr. Kerouac has adistinctive style, part severe simplicity, part hep-cat jargon, part baroquefireworks.
He uses each of these elements with a sure touch, works innumerablecombinations and contrasts with them, and never slackens the speed of hisnarrative, which proceeds, like Dean at the wheel, at a steady hundred and tenmiles an hour. (Review.) Even though this review is for the book, On theRoad, this quote applies to all of his works of art, both poetry and novels.Kerouac died an unfortunate death. After he got his newly acclaimed fame, hedidnt know how to deal with the excitement of being loved by many people, andturned to drinking as an outlet for his emotions.
After several years of thisnew lifestyle, Kerouac died, an unhappy man, happy with his accomplishments, butwaiting for death.BibliographyAdams, Phoebe Lou. On The Road a review.
The Atlantic MonthlyOct. 1957; Ladder to Nirvana, Volume 200, No. 4; pages 178-180. Charters, Ann. ABibliography of Works by Jack Kerouac.
New York: Phoenix Book Show, 1975. – -.Kerouac: A Biography. Straight Arrow, 1973.
– – . The Portable Beat Reader.Viking, 1992. – -. The Penguin Book of The Beaters. Penguin, 1992.
Gifford,Barry and Lee Lawrence. Jacks Book: An oral Biography of Jack Kerouac. St.Martins, 1978.Poetry