Thursday, March 3, 2016

Burroughs mesostics

Recently in my Kerouac class we listened to John Cage's 4'33" and looked at the mesostic poetic form, which Cage is known for using. Cage, of course, is not considered a member of the Beat Generation, but he was their contemporary and certainly approached art from a nontraditional perspective. He was involved in some way in establishing the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University in Boulder (click here).

Over the last couple of classes, we have been watching A Man Within, a 2010 William S. Burroughs documentary, because we recently hit that part of On the Road where Sal, Dean, Marylou, and Ed travel to see Old Bull Lee (Burroughs). I asked the students to complete a mesostic using what they learned from the documentary as a way of note-taking during it. The results were fascinating to read. It's interesting to see the different take-aways from the same information source. Some of the students gave me permission to post their mesostics. Remember, these were done on the fly for note-taking purposes and not edited/corrected. Sorry if they are a bit hard to read. I think you can click on each image to enlarge it.


Anonymous said...

Cool, now have 'em make cut-ups from them.
Richard Marsh

Rick Dale, author of The Beat Handbook said...

Indeed, last class we spent making cut-ups from Mexico City Blues!