Kendra Steiner Editions

October 28, 2019

3 short newspaper sports articles by Jack Kerouac from June-July 1965

Filed under: Uncategorized — kendrasteinereditions @ 1:59 am

kerouac

I was hoping to have a more substantial piece for the 50th Anniversary of Jack Kerouac’s death in October 1969, but I’ve had a heavy work schedule this month, and that article is still sitting about 1/3 completed in my draft box. I’ll get to it eventually…I was going to deal with the fine book by journalist Bob Keating KEROUAC IN FLORIDA, as well as the fascinating most-recent issue of Beat Scene magazine, dealing with Kerouac’s later writings, including SATORI IN PARIS, which any reader of this blog knows is very important to me (my poetry book SATORI IN NATCHEZ is available at Amazon, by the way).

However, here is something to hold you over until then….and it contains some late-period writings of Kerouac from his final period in Florida!

Most people know that Kerouac lived in St. Petersburg from 1964-1969, the period that produced SATORI IN PARIS, VANITY OF DULUOZ, and PIC. Evidently, in June of 1965 he approached the sports editor of THE INDEPENDENT, the evening sister-publication of the ST. PETERSBURG TIMES, and banged out three sports articles in one sitting at the paper’s sports department! These were published in June and July of 1965, and I had not heard of them until this recent article in the TAMPA BAY TIMES.

For the record, here are the names of the pieces and their original dates of publication:

IN MID-JUNE MY IDEAS ABOUT THE MAJOR LEAGUE RACE (16 June 1965)

THE GREATEST SPORTS WRITERS WHO EVER LIVED AS FAR AS I’M CONCERNED (10 July 1965)

WHAT WAS THE PUNCH THAT KNOCKED OUT LISTON (10 July 1965)

These are all written in Kerouac’s idiosyncratic style, and certainly not typical of sports writing in general, although back in the 1960’s this kind of breathless, excited, exaggeration-filled stream-of-consciousness style could be found in certain “personality” sports columnists, who were to sports what Walter Winchell was to politics and entertainment.

Kerouac dealt with sports a lot in his final novel  VANITY OF DULOUZ, published in 1968(I’m not counting PIC, which is in its own category). He was coming to terms with his own sports background as an adolescent and young man back in the late 1930’s and early 40’s, just as he was coming to terms in that book with the arc of his life . I’d guess that Kerouac probably spent a lot of time listening to baseball and other sports on the radio on those long hot nights in South Florida. He himself was probably a regular reader of the sports page at the St. Pete newspaper he visited and whipped out the three pieces for.

If you thought that all the fugitive pieces from JK had been excavated in THE UNKNOWN KEROUAC volume, think again….

Here is the link to the article that contains the three pieces, scans of the original yellowed newspaper versions of the pieces, and the backstory on the pieces. No one would argue that these are major finds, but actually they are a wonderful window into the 1965 Kerouac, and his humor (I laughed out loud a few times…and completely agree with his comments regarding boxing vs golf!) and enthusiasm come through clearly.

https://www.tampabay.com/sports/2019/10/22/read-lost-stories-jack-kerouac-wrote-for-a-st-pete-newspaper-in-1965/

I’m not sure how long this link will be good for. Newspapers sometimes offer material free for the first month or two, and then it’s hidden behind a paywall. However, I will respect the rights of the newspaper and not reprint the pieces here as long as they can be freely accessed online. Thanks to Daniel Figueroa IV of the Tampa Bay Times for bringing these entertaining pieces to our attention and providing the relevant background to contextualize the pieces.

On second thought, this is a good way to honor JK on the 50th Anniversary of his passing. It’s easy to look at the Florida period as depressing and negative, but sports was something the man always loved (he was still talking in the 1960’s proudly about the complex baseball game played solely with cards that he created as a teenager), and that love and passion comes through perfectly here.

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