The Beatnik counter culture was a revolutionary time for music and literature. There is a common stereotype that Beatniks where nothing more than a higher echelon of hippies with few aspirations outside of sex and drugs. Despite some truth in those stereotypes, the Beat Generation actively shaped North American culture.
One of the main objectives of the Beat Generation of the 1950’s and 1960’s was to encourage spontaneity of consciousness. This concept of spontaneity prompted free thought outside the restrictions of censorship and repression. The ideas expressed at this time also accurately depicted the struggles and experiences of marginalized middle to lower classes. It gave a voice to those in society’s peripheries.
A main contributor to this social movement was Allen Ginsberg: the grand-daddy of the Beatniks. He was a prolific presence in shaping the Beat scene with his epic poem “Howl.” Ginsberg worked with contemporaries including Jack Kerouac and Bob Dylan. Ginsberg pushed his understudies to embrace their conscious and subconscious mind; free of heavy restrictions. He closely helped Beat writers adapt a “Beatitude” in their crafts and techniques while inspiring many others to experiment with unconventional writing styles.
The Beat Generation advocated for a transformed lifestyle. The “Beatitude” denounced militarism, materialistic tendencies, conformity, and repression while espousing freedom, love, and spiritual awakenings.
I hear a collective question resonating. So why dedicate a week to the Beatniks? The Beat Generation changed the face of music. The artists inspired by this movement have produced some of the most profound and pertinent music we’ve ever had the privilege to listen while creating a solid foundation for musical genres like Slam Poetry to emerge.
Hope you dig Beatnik Week!