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Jack Kerouac is a Friend of Mine

March 14, 2012

I made reference the other day to Jack Kerouac being important to me,  it did not take long for curious readers to inquire as to why.  I’ve dusted off some old thoughts on it and post them in response.

Jack Kerouac was a friend of mine.  OK, OK so I never knew the guy, we are kindred spirits nonetheless.   Hell, we even share the same birthday.  I have been told I am the last of the true bohemians.  That may or may nor be true.  If I am a bohemian, it would be out of character for me to say, either way.

So many people think it romantic in some fashion to live a life of reckless abandon.  Other’s feel it is just plain stupid.  I don’t accept that I am doing that.  I live true to my own self and make no apologies for it.  I am a poet at heart; it defines the very core of me. I take life in, allow it to affect me, to change me, and then write about it.  Not all poets change the world, as Jack did, but we do start the quiver in the snow that leads to the avalanche of change.  That is enough for me.

Jack and I differ on one point, being self-destructive.  I am not sure he understood that his life was self-destructive.  Moreover, I am not sure he would have cared – it simply was who he was.  As for me, my only vice is coffee (flirting with women is not a vice).  I drink it by the gallon.  Black is best but I will take some cream if I have to drink the swill from Starbucks.  Unlike Jack, my influences from the world take time, his happened in a thunder-clap. Being self-destructive seemed to be part of that; it just goes against my nature.

Jack shook the world with mighty jolts, his time called for that.  His writings challenge us to look at things with a different prospective.  How boring would life be if we were all stuck in “Ward and June Cleaver” mode?  We have Jack, and all the bohemians of his day, to thank for it not being so.  They opened the door that would lead to free-spirited sixties.

As a poet, I seek the smaller patches of snow to turn loose, the ones that live high on the mountain, the ones that take time and great effort to reach.  You see, my mind is more singular in nature; my poetry is about the smaller things in life.   For me, it’s about seeing the world in a single flake of snow.  Jack saw a world full of complexities and railed against it.  We both see the need for change.

It is for certain the world needs change, to always change.  That is what bohemians understand.  I don’t want to change the entire world in a day; I just want change to start.  I am grateful to Jack for all he did. I’m not sure without him; I could live the life I do.  Even if you disagree with the choices he made, you have to admit he did change how we see the world – in this way; he will always be a kindred spirit and a mentor. This is I say Jack is a friend.

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2 comments

  1. But I’ll say, and don’t take this as a real compliment, that you are a far better writer than he.
    He was absolutely the worst writer to ever get published.
    But as a bohemian myself I find it a life without the pretensions of a lifestyle accepted by the status quo. For me it is more of a pragmatic decision rather than romantic. I’ve learned to live with less and i enjoy the things that I have.
    I think modern day bohemians romanticise the lifestyle so much that it becomes a caraciture of itself.


    • Thank you for the complement on my writing. As for Jack, he walked the tight-rope without a net, he blazed a trail. We can read his work and take from it what we will, who did he and his contemporaries have? They sort of made it up as they went and the roughness shows. Still, there is something about it that cuts right into my soul. Never have put my finger on it.

      Your point on the modern bohemian, if there can be such a thing, is spot on. It is easy to take on the uniform, but harder to embrace the calling. In the end, each of us must be true to our inner-Jack and cut our own path. Otherwise, we are simple playing at it.



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