“Well then, I’ll just write, writing for myself, and I’ll forget about the idea of publishing poetry”, and so I started writing… I realized how funny it was, but knew that my father would never… (would) not want to read that. So, from then on, I knew that I would never be able to publish that poem, so, I was completely free to write anything I wanted, (and) if you don’t show anybody, you can do anything you want! — that’s the funny part (which is why the poem is good, because it was written from my own privacy).”
I find this quote from the BBC interview particularly interesting in light of our conversation & reading about Jack Kerouac’s writing process. We discussed in class last week the romantic and epic quality of the myth surrounding Kerouac and his mad-rush-writing of On The Road, and how that romanticism colors popular perception of the novel. I know that, personally, I enjoy the breathless, unending description and repetition that makes Kerouac and some of Ginsberg’s work seem spontaneous and frank. That type of honesty draws the reader right into the page, as if these experiences they’re describing are your own and you feel what they’re feeling. To bring this back to Ginsberg – as I was reading Howl (prior to listening to this interview), I imagined Ginsberg was writing every single image passing through his mind, as if putting them to the page was the only way to get out the frustrations, the longings, the nostalgia and even anger. I imagined that spontaneous writing process so historically connected with Kerouac, and even after listening to Ginsberg’s interview I question the legitimacy of this spontaneity. Is this spontaneous writing process a key feature of Kerouac or the entire Beat generation? To what extent does this spontaneity add legitimacy to the writing itself? Does Kerouac’s or Ginsberg’s work lose “something” if you consider it (or certain pieces) the product of craft (writing for publication, writing for an audience) rather than spontaneity?