The Portable Beat Reader

Author Various
Edited by Ann Charters
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Paperback
$23.00 US
5.04"W x 7.7"H x 1.2"D  
On sale Jul 29, 2003 | 688 Pages | 978-0-14-243753-7
| Grades 9-12 + AP/IB
Beginning in the late 1940's, American literature discovered a four-letter word, and the word was "beat." Beat as in poverty and beatitude, ecstasy and exile. Beat was Jack Kerouac touring the American road in prose as fast and reckless as a V-8 Chevy. It was the junk-sick surrealism of William Burroughs; the wild, Whitmanesque poetry of Allen Ginsberg; and the lumberjack Zen of Gary Snyder.

The Portable Beat Reader collects the most significant writing of these and fellow members (and spiritual descendants) of the Beat Generation, including Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, Bob Dylan, Leroi Jones, and Michael McClure. In poetry, fiction, essays, song lyrics, letters, and memoirs, it captures the triumphant rudeness, energy, and exhilaration of a movement that swept through American letters with hurricane force.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.
ALEXANDER MACLEOD was born in Inverness, Cape Breton and raised in Windsor, Ontario. His first collection of stories, Light Lifting, was a national bestseller, won an Atlantic Book Award, and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the Thomas Head Raddall Fiction Award, and the Commonwealth Book Prize. His most recent book of fiction, Animal Person, won the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, was named a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker, CBC Books, and the Globe and Mail, and includes stories that were featured in The New Yorker, Granta, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. In 2019, he won an O. Henry Award for his story “Lagomorph.” MacLeod holds degrees from the University of Windsor, the University of Notre Dame, and McGill University. He currently lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and teaches at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

SOUVANKHAM THAMMAVONGSA's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Granta, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Best American Non-Required Reading, The Journey Prize Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Her debut book of fiction, How to Pronounce Knife, won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2021 Trillium Book Award, and was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN America Open Book Award, the Danuta Gleed Award, and one of Time's Must-Read Books of 2020. Thammavongsa is also the author of four poetry books: Light, winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry; Found; Small Arguments, winner of the ReLit Award; and, most recently, Cluster. Born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, she was raised and educated in Toronto, where she is at work on her first novel. View titles by Various
The Portable Beat ReaderIntroduction
"Variations On A Generation"

Part I
"The Best Minds Of A Generation"
East Coast Beats

Editor's Note

1. Jack Kerouac
On the Road (excerpt)
The Subterraneans (excerpt)
Mexico City Blues (excerpt)
211th Chorus
239th Chorus
240th Chorus
241st Chorus
242nd Chorus
"Essentials of Spontaneous Prose"
"Belief & Technique for Modern Prose

2. Allen Ginsberg
"Howl"
"Footnote to Howl"
"A Supermarket in California"
"Sunflower Sutra"
"America"
"Kaddish"
"Song"
"On Burroughs' Work"

3. William Burroughs
Junky (excerpt)
The Yage Letters (excerpt)
Naked Lunch (excerpt)
"Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness"

4. Herbert Huncke
"Elsie John"
"Joey Martinez"

5. John Clellon Holmes
Go (excerpt)

6. Carl Solomon
Mishaps, Perhaps (excerpt)

7. Gregory Corso
"I Am 25"
"The Mad Yak"
"Vision of Rotterdam"
"Bomb"
"Marriage"
"Variations on a Generation" (excerpt)

Part 2
"Heart Beat"
Enter Neal Cassady

Editor's Note

1. Neal Cassady
Letters to Jack Kerouac, 1947-1950

2. Jack Kerouac
Letter to Neal Cassady, early 1951

3. Neal Cassady
The First Third (excerpt)

4. Jack Kerouac
Visions of Cody (excerpt)

Part 3
"Constantly Risking Absurdity"
Some San Francisco Renaissance Poets

Editor's Note

1. Kenneth Rexroth
"Thou Shalt Not Kill"
"Poems from the Japanese"
"Rexroth: Shaker and Maker" by William
Everson

2. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
"Dog"
"Constantly Risking Absurdity"
"In Goya's greatest scenes . . ."
"One Thousand Fearful Words for Fidel Castro"
"Horn on Howl

3. Michael McClure
"Peyote Poem"
Scratching the Beat Surface (excerpt)
Includes Snyder's poem, "A Berry Feast," Whalen's poem, "Plus Ca Change..."
McClure's poems, "Point Lobos: Animism" and "For the Death of 100 Whales"

4. Gary Snyder
"Mid-August at Sourdough Montain Lookout
"Milton by Firelight"
"Riprap"
"Praise for Sick Women"
"Night Highway Ninety-nine"
"Toji"
"Higashi Hongwanji"
"Notes on the Religious Tendencies"

5. Philip Whalen
"Sourdough Mountain Lookout"
"A Dim View of Berkeley in the Spring"
"Prose Take-Out, Portland 13:ix:58"

6. Philip Lamantia
"High"
"The night is a space of white marble"
"I have given fair warning"
"There is this distance between me and what I see"
"Fud at Foster's"

7. Lew Welch
"Chicago Poem"
"The Basic Con"
"Taxi Suite—After Anacreon"
"Not Yet 40, My Beard Is Already White"
"The Image, as in a Hexagram"
"I Saw Myself"

8. Bob Kaufman
"Round About Midnight"
"Jazz Chick"
"On"
"O-Jazz-O"

Part 4
"A Few Blue Words To The Wise"
Other Fellow Travelers

Editor's Note

1. Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
"In Memory of Radio"
"Way Out West"
"The Screamers"
Letter About Kerouac's Prose

2. Ray Bremser
"Funny Lotus Blues..."

3. Diane DiPrima
"Three Laments"
"Song for Baby-O, Unborn"
"The Practice of Magical Evocation"
"Poetics"
"Brass Furnace Going Out"

4. Bob Dylan
"Blowin' in the Wind"
"The Times They Are A-Cahngin'"
"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"
Tarantula (excerpt)

5. Brenda Frazer (Bonni Bremser)
"Poem to Lee Forest"

6. Tuli Kupferberg
"Greenwich Village of My Dreams"
1001 Ways to Beat the Draft (excerpt)

7. Jack Micheline
"Poet of the Streets"

8. Frank O'Hara
"Les Luths"
"Post the Lake Poets Ballad"
"Personal Poem"
"The Day Lady Died"

9. Peter Orlovsky
"Lepers Cry"

10. Ed Sanders
"Poem from Jail" (excerpt)
"The Cutting Prow"

11. Anne Waldman
"Our Past"

12. John Wieners
"A poem for record players"
"A poem for tea heads"
"A poem for museum goers"
"A poem for the insane"
"Feminine Soliloquy"
"Children of the Working Class"

Part 5
"Tales of Beatnik Glory"
Memoirs and Posthumous Tributes

Editor's Note

1. Charles Bukowski
Notes of a Dirty Old Man (excerpt)

2. William Burroughs, Jr.
Kentucky Ham (excerpt)

3. Carolyn Cassady
Off the Road (excerpt)

4. Diane DiPrima
Dinners and Nightmares (excerpt)

5. Brenda Frazer (Bonnie Bremser)
Troia: Mexican Memoirs (excerpt)

6. Brion Gysin
"The Beat Hotel, Paris" (excerpt)

7. Joyce Johnson
Minor Characters (excerpt)

8. Hettie Jones
How I Became Hettie Jones (excerpt)

9. Jan Kerouac
Baby Driver (excerpt)

10. Ken Kesey
"The Day After Superman Died" (excerpt)

11. Michael McClure
The Mad Cub (excerpt)

12. Ed Sanders
Tales of Beatnik Glory (excerpt)

Part 6
"The Unspeakable Visions Of The Individual"
Later Work

Editor's Note

1. William Burroughs
Nova Express (excerpt)

2. Gregory Corso
"Columbia U Poesy Reading—1975"
"The Whole Mess . . . Almost"

3. Diane Di Prima
"April Fool Birthday Poem for Grandpa"
Loba: Parts I-VIII (excerpt)

4. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
"The Canticle of Jack Kerouac"
"Uses of Poetry"
"Short Story on a Painting of Gustav Klimt"

5. Allen Ginsberg
"First Party at Ken Kesey's"
"Wichita Vortex Sutra"
"Anti-Vietnam War Peace Mobilization"
"Mugging"
"Ode to Failure"
"White Shroud"
"Fourth Floor, Dawn, Up All Night"
Writing Letters

6. Michael McClure
"Song (I Work with the Shape)"
"It's Nation Time"
"Watching the Stolen Rose"
"The Death of Kin Chuen Louie"

7. Ed Saunders
"Hymn to Archilochus"
"What Would Tom Paine Do?" (Song)

8. Gary Snyder
"Smokey the Bear Sutra"
"I Went into the Maverick Bar"
"Mother Earth: Her Whales"
"The Bath"
"Axe Handles"
"Pine Tree Tops"

Appendix—Three Commentators
1. Norman Mailer
"The White Negro"

2. Alan Watts
"Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen"

3. John Clellon Holmes
"The Game of the Name" (excerpt)

Books For Further Reading

Index Of Authors And Titles

Acknowledgments

"A deft and definitive collection. It catches the flavor of playful, serious defiance of the whole generation." —Gary Snyder

About

Beginning in the late 1940's, American literature discovered a four-letter word, and the word was "beat." Beat as in poverty and beatitude, ecstasy and exile. Beat was Jack Kerouac touring the American road in prose as fast and reckless as a V-8 Chevy. It was the junk-sick surrealism of William Burroughs; the wild, Whitmanesque poetry of Allen Ginsberg; and the lumberjack Zen of Gary Snyder.

The Portable Beat Reader collects the most significant writing of these and fellow members (and spiritual descendants) of the Beat Generation, including Neal Cassady, Gregory Corso, Diane di Prima, Bob Dylan, Leroi Jones, and Michael McClure. In poetry, fiction, essays, song lyrics, letters, and memoirs, it captures the triumphant rudeness, energy, and exhilaration of a movement that swept through American letters with hurricane force.

For more than seventy years, Penguin has been the leading publisher of classic literature in the English-speaking world. With more than 1,700 titles, Penguin Classics represents a global bookshelf of the best works throughout history and across genres and disciplines. Readers trust the series to provide authoritative texts enhanced by introductions and notes by distinguished scholars and contemporary authors, as well as up-to-date translations by award-winning translators.

Author

ALEXANDER MACLEOD was born in Inverness, Cape Breton and raised in Windsor, Ontario. His first collection of stories, Light Lifting, was a national bestseller, won an Atlantic Book Award, and was a finalist for the Scotiabank Giller Prize, the Frank O’Connor International Short Story Award, the Thomas Head Raddall Fiction Award, and the Commonwealth Book Prize. His most recent book of fiction, Animal Person, won the Dartmouth Book Award for Fiction, was named a Best Book of the Year by The New Yorker, CBC Books, and the Globe and Mail, and includes stories that were featured in The New Yorker, Granta, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. In 2019, he won an O. Henry Award for his story “Lagomorph.” MacLeod holds degrees from the University of Windsor, the University of Notre Dame, and McGill University. He currently lives in Dartmouth, Nova Scotia, and teaches at Saint Mary’s University in Halifax.

SOUVANKHAM THAMMAVONGSA's fiction has appeared in The New Yorker, Harper's, Granta, The Atlantic, The Paris Review, Ploughshares, Best American Non-Required Reading, The Journey Prize Stories, and The O. Henry Prize Stories. Her debut book of fiction, How to Pronounce Knife, won the 2020 Scotiabank Giller Prize and the 2021 Trillium Book Award, and was named a finalist for the National Book Critics Circle Award, the PEN America Open Book Award, the Danuta Gleed Award, and one of Time's Must-Read Books of 2020. Thammavongsa is also the author of four poetry books: Light, winner of the Trillium Book Award for Poetry; Found; Small Arguments, winner of the ReLit Award; and, most recently, Cluster. Born in the Lao refugee camp in Nong Khai, Thailand, she was raised and educated in Toronto, where she is at work on her first novel. View titles by Various

Table of Contents

The Portable Beat ReaderIntroduction
"Variations On A Generation"

Part I
"The Best Minds Of A Generation"
East Coast Beats

Editor's Note

1. Jack Kerouac
On the Road (excerpt)
The Subterraneans (excerpt)
Mexico City Blues (excerpt)
211th Chorus
239th Chorus
240th Chorus
241st Chorus
242nd Chorus
"Essentials of Spontaneous Prose"
"Belief & Technique for Modern Prose

2. Allen Ginsberg
"Howl"
"Footnote to Howl"
"A Supermarket in California"
"Sunflower Sutra"
"America"
"Kaddish"
"Song"
"On Burroughs' Work"

3. William Burroughs
Junky (excerpt)
The Yage Letters (excerpt)
Naked Lunch (excerpt)
"Deposition: Testimony Concerning a Sickness"

4. Herbert Huncke
"Elsie John"
"Joey Martinez"

5. John Clellon Holmes
Go (excerpt)

6. Carl Solomon
Mishaps, Perhaps (excerpt)

7. Gregory Corso
"I Am 25"
"The Mad Yak"
"Vision of Rotterdam"
"Bomb"
"Marriage"
"Variations on a Generation" (excerpt)

Part 2
"Heart Beat"
Enter Neal Cassady

Editor's Note

1. Neal Cassady
Letters to Jack Kerouac, 1947-1950

2. Jack Kerouac
Letter to Neal Cassady, early 1951

3. Neal Cassady
The First Third (excerpt)

4. Jack Kerouac
Visions of Cody (excerpt)

Part 3
"Constantly Risking Absurdity"
Some San Francisco Renaissance Poets

Editor's Note

1. Kenneth Rexroth
"Thou Shalt Not Kill"
"Poems from the Japanese"
"Rexroth: Shaker and Maker" by William
Everson

2. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
"Dog"
"Constantly Risking Absurdity"
"In Goya's greatest scenes . . ."
"One Thousand Fearful Words for Fidel Castro"
"Horn on Howl

3. Michael McClure
"Peyote Poem"
Scratching the Beat Surface (excerpt)
Includes Snyder's poem, "A Berry Feast," Whalen's poem, "Plus Ca Change..."
McClure's poems, "Point Lobos: Animism" and "For the Death of 100 Whales"

4. Gary Snyder
"Mid-August at Sourdough Montain Lookout
"Milton by Firelight"
"Riprap"
"Praise for Sick Women"
"Night Highway Ninety-nine"
"Toji"
"Higashi Hongwanji"
"Notes on the Religious Tendencies"

5. Philip Whalen
"Sourdough Mountain Lookout"
"A Dim View of Berkeley in the Spring"
"Prose Take-Out, Portland 13:ix:58"

6. Philip Lamantia
"High"
"The night is a space of white marble"
"I have given fair warning"
"There is this distance between me and what I see"
"Fud at Foster's"

7. Lew Welch
"Chicago Poem"
"The Basic Con"
"Taxi Suite—After Anacreon"
"Not Yet 40, My Beard Is Already White"
"The Image, as in a Hexagram"
"I Saw Myself"

8. Bob Kaufman
"Round About Midnight"
"Jazz Chick"
"On"
"O-Jazz-O"

Part 4
"A Few Blue Words To The Wise"
Other Fellow Travelers

Editor's Note

1. Amiri Baraka (LeRoi Jones)
"In Memory of Radio"
"Way Out West"
"The Screamers"
Letter About Kerouac's Prose

2. Ray Bremser
"Funny Lotus Blues..."

3. Diane DiPrima
"Three Laments"
"Song for Baby-O, Unborn"
"The Practice of Magical Evocation"
"Poetics"
"Brass Furnace Going Out"

4. Bob Dylan
"Blowin' in the Wind"
"The Times They Are A-Cahngin'"
"A Hard Rain's A-Gonna Fall"
Tarantula (excerpt)

5. Brenda Frazer (Bonni Bremser)
"Poem to Lee Forest"

6. Tuli Kupferberg
"Greenwich Village of My Dreams"
1001 Ways to Beat the Draft (excerpt)

7. Jack Micheline
"Poet of the Streets"

8. Frank O'Hara
"Les Luths"
"Post the Lake Poets Ballad"
"Personal Poem"
"The Day Lady Died"

9. Peter Orlovsky
"Lepers Cry"

10. Ed Sanders
"Poem from Jail" (excerpt)
"The Cutting Prow"

11. Anne Waldman
"Our Past"

12. John Wieners
"A poem for record players"
"A poem for tea heads"
"A poem for museum goers"
"A poem for the insane"
"Feminine Soliloquy"
"Children of the Working Class"

Part 5
"Tales of Beatnik Glory"
Memoirs and Posthumous Tributes

Editor's Note

1. Charles Bukowski
Notes of a Dirty Old Man (excerpt)

2. William Burroughs, Jr.
Kentucky Ham (excerpt)

3. Carolyn Cassady
Off the Road (excerpt)

4. Diane DiPrima
Dinners and Nightmares (excerpt)

5. Brenda Frazer (Bonnie Bremser)
Troia: Mexican Memoirs (excerpt)

6. Brion Gysin
"The Beat Hotel, Paris" (excerpt)

7. Joyce Johnson
Minor Characters (excerpt)

8. Hettie Jones
How I Became Hettie Jones (excerpt)

9. Jan Kerouac
Baby Driver (excerpt)

10. Ken Kesey
"The Day After Superman Died" (excerpt)

11. Michael McClure
The Mad Cub (excerpt)

12. Ed Sanders
Tales of Beatnik Glory (excerpt)

Part 6
"The Unspeakable Visions Of The Individual"
Later Work

Editor's Note

1. William Burroughs
Nova Express (excerpt)

2. Gregory Corso
"Columbia U Poesy Reading—1975"
"The Whole Mess . . . Almost"

3. Diane Di Prima
"April Fool Birthday Poem for Grandpa"
Loba: Parts I-VIII (excerpt)

4. Lawrence Ferlinghetti
"The Canticle of Jack Kerouac"
"Uses of Poetry"
"Short Story on a Painting of Gustav Klimt"

5. Allen Ginsberg
"First Party at Ken Kesey's"
"Wichita Vortex Sutra"
"Anti-Vietnam War Peace Mobilization"
"Mugging"
"Ode to Failure"
"White Shroud"
"Fourth Floor, Dawn, Up All Night"
Writing Letters

6. Michael McClure
"Song (I Work with the Shape)"
"It's Nation Time"
"Watching the Stolen Rose"
"The Death of Kin Chuen Louie"

7. Ed Saunders
"Hymn to Archilochus"
"What Would Tom Paine Do?" (Song)

8. Gary Snyder
"Smokey the Bear Sutra"
"I Went into the Maverick Bar"
"Mother Earth: Her Whales"
"The Bath"
"Axe Handles"
"Pine Tree Tops"

Appendix—Three Commentators
1. Norman Mailer
"The White Negro"

2. Alan Watts
"Beat Zen, Square Zen, and Zen"

3. John Clellon Holmes
"The Game of the Name" (excerpt)

Books For Further Reading

Index Of Authors And Titles

Acknowledgments

Praise

"A deft and definitive collection. It catches the flavor of playful, serious defiance of the whole generation." —Gary Snyder

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