Just as he upended the conventions of the novel with On the Road, Jack Kerouac revolutionized American poetry in this ingenious collection
Bringing together selections from literary journals and his private notebooks, Jack Kerouac’s Scattered Poems exemplifies the Beat Generation icon’s innovative approach to language. Kerouac’s poems, populated by hitchhikers, Chinese grocers, Buddhist saints, and cultural figures from Rimbaud to Harpo Marx, evoke the primal and the sublime, the everyday and the metaphysical. Scattered Poems, which includes the playfully instructive “How to Meditate,” the sensory “San Francisco Blues,” and an ode to Kerouac’s fellow Beat Allen Ginsberg, is rich in striking images and strident urgency.
Kerouac’s widespread influences feel new and fresh in these poems, which echo the rhythm of improvisational jazz music, and the centuries-old structure of Japanese haiku. In rebelling against the dry rules and literary pretentiousness he perceived in early twentieth-century poetry, Kerouac pioneered a poetic style informed by oral tradition, driven by concrete language with neither embellishment nor abstraction, and expressed through spontaneous, uncensored writing.