The “Beat Movement” in modern literature has become an important period in the history of literature and society in America. Incorporating influences such as jazz, art, literature, philosophy and religion, the beat writers created a new and prophetic vision of modern life and changed the way a generation of people sees the world. That generation is mow aging and its representative voices are becoming lost to eternity, but the message is alive and well. The Beats have forever altered the nature of American consciousness.
The Beat Generation of writers offered the world a new attitude. They brought to society a consciousness of life worth living. They offered a method of escape from the stultifying, unimaginative world we live in, through the exploration of one’s intellect. Beat has had many different contemporary implications in music, poetry and literature. Literature has been liberated considerably. The poetic form has been changed to inaugurate a new poetic form, an American form.
“There was less emphasis on tradition and more emphasis on the individual talent. (www.rohan.sdsu.edu)” One of the most important contributions to contemporary verse was to take poetry out of the classrooms and into non-academic settingcoffee houses, jazz clubs, large public auditoriums and even athletic stadiums. Poetry is more popular and more read than anytime in history, not only spoken poetry but also sung poetry of a high order. “The literature, coordinated by pop music, with a way of dressing, with a way of life, it something that has influenced the youth of the world not only in Western countries but Eastern countries as well. (www.charm.net)” Music has been influenced greatly by Beat writing. The lyrics of many great songs have forever been changed by the writing of the Beat Generation. “Bob Dylan’s favorite poet was Allen Ginsberg. Ginsberg became one of Dylan’s greatest friends. He worked on many projects with Dylan…The band Rage Against the Machine has many of Ginsberg’s poems and words show up in their songs. For instance the song ‘Bulls on Parade’ includes Ginsberg ‘Hadda Been Playing on the Jukebox’ (www.charm.net)” Generation X writers are compared to the Beat writers. Many people say that the “generation coming to age has the potential to bring a new vision to society. The Beats thumbed their noses at the corporate world just like Generation X does today. (www.altx.com/io/beatgeneration.html)” Many writers of Generation X have been influenced by the writing like Andy Clausen, Eliot Katz, Geoffrey Manough and Ed Sanders. There are many writers that have been influenced but have not been included in the Generation X section. These writers took up the flame of the Beat flavor, keeping it strong.
James Wright was one of the writers that kept the flame going. “He was much admired poet of his generation…(www.rohan.sdsu.edu)” His works have a “sense of Midwestern American bleakness…(www.rohan.sdsu)” One of his poems goes like this “My bones turn to dark emeralds Your hands turn yellow in the ruins of the sun Suddenly I realize That if I stepped out of my body I would break Into blossom (www.rohan.sdsu.edu)” Another such writer with Beat flavor would be Adrienne Rich. “Rich’s work established the importance of gender in shaping a poetic consciousness and she became a mentor to thousands of women, enabling them to ‘speak the unspeakable,’ to authenticate their unique experience of reality. (www.rohan.sdsu.edu)” Beat writing has made a great impact on the writing of today’s generation. It has allowed people to be more open with themselves and the people that are reading their works. It is also allowed people to be more open minded to new ideas that these works brought to the surface for everybody to see. Where early writing was stiff, beat writing allowed for the writing to come after it to beat to a different drummer. Beat writing has expanded the world of literature, poetry and music to a higher level for people to enjoy.
Bibliography www.charm.net/brooklyn/Topics/BeatGen.html www.lib.virginia.edu/exhibits/sixties/index.html www.rohan.sdsu.edu