In many ways, women of the Beat were cut from the same cloth as the men: fearless, angry, high risk, too smart, restless, highly irregular. They took chances, make mistakes, made poetry, made love, made history. Women of the Beat weren't afraid to get dirty. They were compassionate, careless, charismatic, marching to a different drummer, out of step. Muses who birthed a poetry so raw and new and full of power that it changed the world. Writers whose words weave spells, whose stories bind, whose vision blinds. Artists for whom curing the disease of art kills.
The women of the Beat are the epitome of cool. They were the black-stockinged hipsters, renegade artists, intellectual muses, and gypsy poets who helped change our culture forever. They were feminist before the word was coined. and their work stands beside that of the men. To the Beat men, these women are sisters, saints, and sibyls. Jack Kerouac, who had many women in his life, once said, "The truth of the matter is we don't understand our women; we blame them and it's all our fault."
-- from Women of the Beat Generation
Brenda Knight is a scholar of medieval literature and modern poetry, and former editor of Etc. magazine. She lives in San Francisco.
Women of the Beat Generation profiles 40 women writers, visual artists and Beat muses. It contains new and unpublished works by Hettie Jones, Elise Cowen, Lenore Kandel, Joanne Kyger, Ruth Weiss, Brenda Frazer, Joyce Johnson, Mary Fabilli, Jan Kerouac, Janine Pommy Vega, Mary Norbert Korte and Diane di Prima.
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