English Graduate Organization to Host Public Marathon Reading to Honor the Beats
The English Graduate Organization will host its second annual reading marathon, this year titled “The Beats: A Public Marathon Reading,” on Monday, April 21, from 2:30-6:30 p.m. in the Humanities Center Library (300 Tolley). The event is free and open to the public, and will be accompanied by refreshments. An open mic for all literature beyond the Beats starts at 5:30.
Students, faculty and staff from across campus, as well as literature fans from greater Syracuse, are invited to drop by to read from the works of their favorite Beat authors. Participants can bring their own texts, or read from the selections on hand at the event.
“With the passing of Amiri Baraka and the 100th birthday of William Burroughs this past February, in addition to numerous film adaptations of Jack Kerouac’s and Allen Ginsberg’s works over the past few years, we thought our spring marathon would be a great opportunity to revisit some poetry and other writings of the Beats,” says Patrick Riedy, a Ph.D. student in the English program and a co-coordinator of the event.
The Beats were among the generation of U.S. writers who, dissatisfied with postwar American consumer and political culture, initiated the counterculture movement. Their texts are characterized by experiments with traditional literary forms, especially under the influence of jazz, as well as their rejection of hegemonic American narratives of the “good life.” The Beats attracted controversy for their frank depictions of the drug use and sexual bohemianism that would come to be associated with the hippie movement, but they remain a source of inspiration for — among other things — their engagement with Eastern religious philosophy as an antidote to consumerism.
Also included among the texts available for participants to read from at the event will be works from the Beats’ influences—authors like Transcendalists Walt Whitman, Ralph Waldo Emerson and Henry David Thoreau, and Romantics Percy Bysshe Shelley, William Blake, John Keats—as well as those whom they influenced, such as Ed Sanders, Charles Bukowski and d.a. levy along with contemporaries like Robert Creeley, Bernadette Mayer, Barbara Guest, Frank O’Hara, Adrienne Rich and Ishmael Reed.
“Grove Press Archive at SCRC has numerous letters and correspondences with these poets, as well as having the papers of Beats Diane Di Prima, Amiri Baraka and John Wieners,” says Riedy, giving the writers represented at the event “a unique connection with the University.”
“The restlessness of that generation manifested itself in the form of poetry, fiction, nonfiction and various other art forms which I see as still resonating in our present moment,” Riedy adds. “This reading, we hope, will provide an opportunity for us to discover and participate in the observations [that] these poets were able to forge into spiritual, intellectual and political questions in new artistic and aesthetic ways.”
The event is sponsored by the English Graduate Organization and the Dean’s Professor for the Public Humanities. For questions, contact Ashley O’Mara and Riedy at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit the event’s Facebook page (https://www.facebook.com/events/1432662666982513/).