In my life I can remember at least two literary awakenings. The first was my exposure to Lord of the Rings. I remember my mother got a set from a friend of hers for me one summer. The three books and cardboard sleeve that held them was at least 10 years old. The pages all had that tattered smell us bibliophiles love to breathe oh so deep. I disappeared in the fantasy.
But that has nothing to do with this project.
The second awakening was the summer of 1992 on the beach at Long Beach Island when I was first introduced to the spontaneous prosody of Jack Kerouac. Throughout the previous year or so my curiosity had been bombarded with the hype of hipness by a long time comrade and fellow writer. As my boredom was reaching its zenith with the rhythmic lulls of the ocean and unminded children, it was with great delectation that I discovered one of Kerouac’s novels on my sister’s dresser.
Oddly enough, it was not the book that eternally crowned Kerouac ‘King of the Beats’ and the subsequent father of a new generation. It was in fact The Dharma Bums, a text that I thoroughly enjoyed and quickly devoured on the sand swept landscape.
In a sense, it was a demarcation of a major turning point in my life as I had finally found a literary mentor with whom to commiserate with sheer honesty. From that fateful day when the salt spray dampened the pages of the book before me, I would approach the world with eyes as fresh as a newborn infant’s. Traveling anywhere without a journal became unheard of.
According to the first entry I’d kept a journal previously, about 2 years ago, and had ceased writing 1 year, 11 months and 2 weeks after that. But this journal, and the half dozen or so that followed, would prove to be different. On the inside jacket of the first I taped a copy (though still handwritten) of Jack Kerouac’s Belief and Techniques for Modern Prose.
Over the next few years I wrote constantly, from the day I put down the Dharma Bums, to the day I bussed and hitchhiked to Ti Jean’s very town of birth, the haunts of Doctor Sax, Lowell, Massachusetts. From book to birthplace I was Discovering Duluoz.
When I was done I gave a copy of my manuscript to a few friends and until very recently forgot all about it. My project, though that sounds much to formal and bureaucratic for what I have in mind, is to revisit those entries, the verse of my mind in discovery, and assemble my favorites into a spoken word collection.