Legacies and Jack Kerouac

Today, we say farewell to Jack Kerouac as a mentor. (“Farewell, Jack!”)

However, just because we have to say goodbye doesn’t mean that you can’t continue to explore Kerouac’s legacy. If you’re a writer (and if you’re reading this, I bet that you are in some way, shape, or form) there’s a more formal place to go if you’d like to participate in part of Jack Kerouac’s legacy:

The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics

Started by Allen Ginsberg and Anne Waldman in 1974 in memory of Kerouac, I know two people personally who have graduated from this particular school (both brilliant writers). You can get a BA in Writing and Lit. A MFA in Writing and Poetics. A MFA in Creative Writing – low residency degree. And there’s a summer program too.

But, seriously, how’s that for a way to be remembered? Your buddies start a school and name it after you. I don’t know if there’s much higher praise, and I certainly can’t think of it at the moment.

As I sat and daydreamed about my friends’ starting a writing school named for me, I ran into an interesting question. For the Kerouac school the website offers this as an explanation of their goals and vision: “The Kerouac School is distinct among academic writing programs because of its lively community of writers who trace their genesis and inspiration from a wide range of aesthetic and social movements, including postmodernism, Buddhist and contemplative teachings, the l-a-n-g-u-a-g-e school of poetry, the New York schools of poetry, the Black Mountain school of poetry, the Berkeley and San Francisco Renaissance, the Black Arts movement, the Beat movement, Surrealism, Dada and the Harlem Renaissance. One tradition that is emphasized is the Outrider lineage—a heritage of counter-poetics operating outside the academic mainstream.”

My question: What on earth would my school be based on? The movements listed for the Kerouac school can certainly be seen in his writing. I don’t know if there’s a Stephen King literary movement – but I’d probably fall into that. Can you make a whole school, dedicated to educating young, newbie writers – college graduates at that – based on the way that you write?

A good question to end on, I think. Daydream Time! Ignore the fact that a lot of us are unpublished wannabes and fast-forward to our successful futures: If there was a school dedicated to teaching your methods/themes/styles/whatevers – what would you want included? What do you want your legacy to be?

Allen Ginsberg Jack Kerouac legacies MFA schools

jenny maloney View All →

Jenny writes dark fiction that her mother hates. Her stories and essays have appeared in Across the Margin, Pantheon, Shimmer, Black Denim Lit, Skive, and others. When she’s not writing her own stuff, she’s reading mysteries for Criminal Element. When she’s not writing fiction or reviews, she’s writing/directing/performing/designing plays at Springs Ensemble Theatre.

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