To a different beat
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While Jack Kerouac is most often associated with his novel, On the Road, and the subsequent allegations of hedonism and wanton rebellion that this text elicited from media outlets, I aim to complicate understandings of Jack Kerouac’s writings and ideas through a rare reading of his poems, which are often seen as secondary to his more popular prose. Specifically, I will discuss two poetic series, the urban San Francisco Blues and the mountainous Desolation Blues, written in two divergent geographical locations. On the surface, these poetic series reinforce traditional narratives that position Kerouac as a Romantic soul trapped in the modern city and yearning for escape. A close reading of the poems, however, will reveal a compassionate, complicated, and even contradictory Kerouac who is, above all, a writer.