This is where I'll be providing general information on various Beat topics. This will be an ever-expanding section of The Beat Page as more information and new topics are introduced and developed. If you have an idea for the Info area of the Beat Page, feel free to submit requests / suggestions.

Where does the word "Beat" come from?

The word "Beat" originally derived from circus and carnival argot, reflecting the straitened circumstanced of nomadic carnies. In the drug world, "beat" meant "robbed" or "cheated" (as in a "beat" deal). Herbert Huncke picked up the word from his show business friends on the Near North Side of Chicago, and in the fall of 1945 he introduced the word to William Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac. He never intended it to be elevating, but the opposite: "I meant beaten. The world against me." ( more ... )

Buddhism and the Beats

Buddhism, the ancient and highly philosophical Asian tradition, was the religion of the Beats. It began to influence the lives of the major New York Beat writers in the mid-1950's, when Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg each began delving into it, unaware at first that the other was doing so as well. Kerouac and Ginsberg began their studies by reading books in libraries, but when they migrated to California they began integrating the religion into their lives, inspired by Gary Snyder (the Beat writer most consistently identified with Buddhism) and Kenneth Rexroth. ( more ... )

The Beats on Film
There have been several films/documentaries made about the Beats and the Beat Generation. I've included some of the most notable ones here along with links to additional information. Some information was researched on the Internet Movie Database. Links to IMDB and other external pages will launch within a new browser window. ( more ... )

Love Lion - Michael McClure and Ray Manzarek

More than 40 years after his Beat days, Michael McClure is still making roads for American poets - this time with "Love Lion," a 70-minute performance video of his poems backed by the piano of Ray Manzarek who, with Jim Morrison, founded the rock band The Doors. "Love Lion," issued by Mystic Fire Video in conjunction with Island Visual Arts, was recorded at the Bottom Line rock club in Greenwich Village. ( more ... )

Who Was Lucien Carr?

I've received a few inquiries about Lucien Carr since the release of Gary Walkow's docu-drama about the life of William S. Burroughs and Joan Vollmer, played by Keifer Sutherland and Courtney Love, respectively. The independent film premiered at the USA Film Festival in Dallas, Texas this year. What does this have to do with Lucien Carr, you ask? The film begins in New York City on the night Lucien Carr murders David Kammerer. ( more ... )

A Cultural Chronology of Early Beat Generation Literature 1944-1960


  • World War II is going on throughout Europe and Phillippines; D-Day landing of U.S. and allied troops at Normandy; United Nations is established; D.H. Lawrence's Lady Chatterly's Lover found obscene in U.S.
  • Kenneth Rexroth engineers Berkeley Renaissance with William Everson, Philip Lamantia, Robert Duncan... Circle magazine around West Coast Anarchist and Libertarian Circles around Berkeley.
    ( more ... )



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