On the road to hosting the sixth annual Davis Jazz Artists Festival, the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts will be looking for the next generation of William Burroughs, Allen Ginsbergs and Jack Kerouacs.
The gallery will debut the first annual Jack Kerouac Poetry Contest at the conference to keep the spirits of the Beat Generation alive. The poetry contest seeks to find the next line of artists who embody the sense of counter-revolution and anti-establishment that captures the spirit of Burrough Burroughs‘ Naked Lunch, Ginsberg‘s “Howl“ and Kerouac‘s On the Road.
The brainchild of the poetry contest belongs to UC Davis English professor Andy Jones. Jones, who has taught courses about the Beat Generation, wanted to extend the conference to include more students from the university. He worked with event organizers to establish the poetry contest.
“Part of the thinking was to give more opportunity for students to participate in the conference,“ Jones said. “We want something that honors and respects the best of the generation.“
Participation is free to UCD students. Submission is limited to three poems, and entries must be submitted by Sept. 28. The winning poems will be published in the Blue Moon Literary and Art Review. The poets will also be invited to read their works at the two-day beat conference, which takes place Oct. 4 to 5.
The Natsoulas Center has been holding the conference in Davis since 2002, bringing beat fans together to rejoice in the values embodied by Kerouac and his generation of poets. The conference has been a bastion for works inspired by the Beat Generation. There will be jazz performances, improvisational paintings and a special visit by David Amram, a composer who worked with Kerouac.
“It‘s the best time to bring Amram to Davis to collaborate with the students and to have a seasoned veteran collaborate with the young guys,“ said John Natsoulas, who runs the conferences. “He is a national treasure.“
Kerouac is widely considered to be the father of the Beat Generation, a period marked by free-thinking artists who used anti-establishment prose and risky subjects to critique social conditions during the 1950s and 1960s. The movement began in New York before migrating to the West Coast to San Francisco. Besides On the Road, Kerouac also wrote Big Sur, Visions of Cody, and The Dharma Bums, the latter of which was influenced heavily by his adventure with poet and UCD English professor emeritus Gary Snyder.
Just as Snyder influenced Kerouac, the iconic poet has left an indelible mark on youth counter-culture and cultivated new writers to follow in his footsteps.
“For the conference, I am most excited to do the poetry reading,“ said first-year creative writing graduate student Brian Ang. “The works of the Beat Generation really influenced me. I read them in high school and college.“
The conference takes place on the weekend of Oct. 4 to 5. Submissions for the poetry contest can be sent to Andy Jones at the John Natsoulas Center for the Arts, which is located at 521 First St. For more information about the conference, visit natsoulas.com.
JACKSON YAN can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.