Language and Register as Agents of Subversion in Jack Kerouac's Poetry

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Introduction Jack Kerouac wrote in the time of postwar America. His poetry is in general, as much of the poetry of his contemporaries, characterized by the use of obscene language and breaking the poetic form in writing both prose and poetry. “In his prose works, such as “On the road” or “The Dharma bums” many of the elements of his poetry could be found, since he did not make too clear distinction between prose and poetry writing.. What was specific to his writing was the invention of the so-called bop prosody. In this paper we will discuss bop prosody, which is based on bebop, and defined as spontaneous writing by Jack Kerouac, as the technique of writing using the same spontaneous, improvisational expression as that of a jazz musician. (Albert DeGenova, page 1) Bebop, also called bop, as defined in Encyclopedia Britannica, is the first kind of modern jazz, which split jazz into two opposing camps in the latter half of the 1940s. Bebop took the harmonies of the old jazz and superimposed on them additional “substituted” chords. It also broke up the metronomic regularity of the drummer’s rhythmic pulse and produced solos played in double time with several bars packed with 16th notes. The result was complicated improvisation. (Encyclopedia Britannica, online edition) Albert DeGenova, in his essay “Bop Prosody, Jazz, and the Practice of Spontaneous Poetics”, explained that just as jazz music allows the musician to “solo” a freely improvised spontaneous composition, the freedom allowed the jazz poet is based on spontaneous emotional expression. He further explains that The Jazz Poetry Anthology represents jazz poetry as poetry inspired by specific jazz musicians or jazz songs; poetry written to jazz music, poetry that tries to imitate through words the instrumental sounds of jazz music; or poetry that meditates on the essence of jazz music as an art form (page 1).

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