Mass. honoring the life's work of Jack Kerouac
To be rebroadcast at 11PM, Monday, August 26, 2002
C-SPAN National Broadcast
LOCATION: Jack Kerouac Commemorative Park Bridge Street Lowell, Massachusetts Host: Bruce Collins Co-Hosts: Dr. Douglas Brinkley, Eisenhower Center for American Studies at the University of New Orleans and authorized Kerouac biographer David Amram, composer,musician and Kerouac's principal musical collaborator from 1956 until his death in 1969, and author of "Offbeat:Collaborating with Kerouac".
John Sampas, brother-in-law of Jack Kerouac and Executor of his Estate. A native of Lowell and life time friend of the late author, whose devotion to Kerouac's work has restored and enhanced Kerouac's reputation world wide.
Paul Marion, University of Massachusetts-Lowell Author of seminal book dealing with Kerouac's earliest writings, "Atop the Underwood", an authority on Kerouac's Franco-American heritage, one of the founders of "Lowell Celebrates Kerouac", and a native of Lowell.
Jean-Louis "Jack" Kerouac was born on March 12, 1922 in the industrial milltown of Lowell, Massachusetts to parents of French-Canadian descent. He grew up in Centralville and Pawtucketville, working class sections of the city, and spoke joual, a French dialect, at home. A Roman Catholic, he prayed regularly with his mother at a religious display in Lowell known as The Grotto, a shrine to the Virgin Mary known for its large statues depicting the Stations of the Cross (labelled in French) and a huge statue of the crucified Christ. He had an older brother Gerard and an older sister Caroline. Gerard died at the age of 9 in 1926; Caroline died in 1964. Kerouac was a football star at Lowell High School and received a football scholarship to Columbia University in New York City in 1940. He broke his leg during his first football season and quit the team and Columbia not long before World War II. During the war, he lost several good friends from high school, including his best friend Sebastian Sampas, who died in 1944 while in the service. Kerouac joined the Merchant Marine in 1942 and the Navy in In 1944, he met Allen Ginsberg and William Burroughs and in 1946 Neal Cassady. These and a few others would become with Kerouac a small post-war literary group later known informally as the "Beat generation." Starting in 1947, Kerouac traveled regularly to Colorado, California,Florida, Mexico, and New York. He started writing an early version of "On the Road" in 1948, after completing his first novel "The Town and the City," which was published in 1950. "On the Road" was written in its final form on a single scroll in 1951 and finally published in 1957. Kerouac and his friends experimented with their literary presentation and with combining poetry and prose with jazz music, which some observe is a precursor to modern-day hip-hop and rap. Kerouac began studies of Buddhism as early as 1954. Kerouac married three times - to Edie Parker, Joan Haverty, and Stella Sampas, the sister of his high school friend Sebastian. Jack Kerouac died in St. Petersburg, Florida, on October 21, 1969. He is buried in Lowell.
Douglas Brinkley and David Amram will also discuss the Kerouac Writers Residence in Orlando Florida, which now gives young writers the opportunity of creating their own work, in the same small house where Kerouac and his mother lived and where Kerouac created some of his major works. Both Brinkley and Amram, as well as the late Steve Allen were supporters of this new center for emerging authors from its outset.
"Lowell, Orlando, San Francisco and Denver and Northport were as important as New York in Kerouac's life."said Amram.
"All of us will discuss Kerouac in terms of his own merits as a major figure in American letters, independent of any Beat stereotype. His inclusion in a series that also honors Steinbeck, Faulkner and Wolfe is long overdue and a cause for rejoicing. His books are read world wide because of their lasting value. Now he is finally being recognized in the country he loved so much, and wrote about so magnificently."