What era does everyone associate with peace, love, personal exploration, and even liberal drug use? Why the 1970’s of course, man! But this far out generation was preceded by some seriously inspiring—yet seemingly strung out—fellows.
Meet the Beat Generation.
Beatniks were an interesting crowd
The term “beatnik” began to gain steam in the late 1940’s and early 1950’s, and it was literally a way of glamorizing a rolling stone, bum way of life. These people—led by legendary authors and poets such as Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg—were just trying to find the meaning of life and seek spiritual peace.
Most of the time they went looking at the bottom of a bottle. Go figure.
Other than seeking enlightenment through the use of various substances, the men leading the movement could seriously write. Allen Ginsberg was one of the top guys, and it’s really no surprise he was a big beatnik name.
Ginsberg wasn’t down with mainstream America
An avid poet, writer, and philosopher, Allen Ginsberg fully immersed himself in the counterculture crew that was the Beatniks. He was so for sticking it to the man that his written word became the voice of an entire generation.
An event in October of 1955 would bring six poets together, and Ginsberg’s words would make it clear what the Beatniks were all about. He definitely tied things together for everyone.
Lyrical poetry became a thing
On October 7, 1955, five poets were set to read pieces of their own at the literary event named “Six Poets at Six Gallery,” in San Francisco.
Ginsberg was set to headline, and he chose to read his poem “Howl.” It resonated intensely with the non-conformists in attendance.
Ginsberg was only a shy, 29-year-old who had never read his poetry out loud before—especially in front of a crowded audience. He nervously began with, “I saw the best minds of my generation destroyed by madness,” and the young, hipster crowd was hooked.
Some would say this marked the beginning of the entire Beatnik era. Don’t ask Jack Kerouac—he was too busy getting drunk off of wine to notice the evening’s festivities were going so remarkably well. In true Beatnik fashion.