Jack Kerouac Park
Visit the National Park Service’s Jack Kerouac Park, at 246 Market Street in Lowell, Massachusetts, to remember and enjoy the area that sprang one of the best-known nonconformist stream-of-consciousness authors of the mid-twentieth century. The park is named after the Beat poet and novelist (1922-1969) who was born and lived many years in this relatively midsize town in the northern part of the state nearing the New Hampshire border.
The writer is buried nearby at the Sampas family plot at Edson Cemetery, located on Gorham Street slightly south of the Lowell Connector. (He had married into the Sampas family.)
“The only people for me are the mad ones: the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who… burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow Roman candles.” –Jack Kerouac
Kerouac’s most popular book is On the Road. He carried influence over a generation of non-conformist writers and artists, coming of age primarily in the 1950s and 1960s. To maintain his stream-of-consciousness style, the manuscript was originally composed on a scroll rather than typing on single sheets needing to be changed in his manual typewriter. Read about it here: https://www.npr.org/templates/story. No doubt he would have been far happier with the electronic word processor technology available today.
The Beat was an anti-establishment subculture characterized by woven styles of contemporary poetry, dark fashions, and philosophy. It had its own slang, much of which became part of everyday language that outlasted the movement. Words and phrases like “hipster” and “Big Daddy” are examples. Check out https://grammar.yourdictionary.com/slang/beat-slang-1950s.html for more about Beat slang.
For a light taste of Beat Culture, watch Funny Face, the classic musical film starring Audrey Hepburn, Fred Astaire, and Kay Thompson. Also, Peter, Paul and Mary, a commercially popular vocal group in the 1960s, recorded a song with many Beat Culture references called I Dig.
Interestingly, the writer himself did not take credit for the phenomenon that surrounded his name.
“It is not my fault that certain so-called bohemian elements have found in my writings something to hang their peculiar beatnik theories on.” –Jack Kerouac
Jack Kerouac Park is the first stop on Massachusetts Author Adventures Trail Part 3.