Pub Date: NOV 15TH ’20 • 978-1-887276-36-8
On June 5th, the 25th death anniversary of Jack Kerouac for
GUARDIAN’s memorial article they interviewed Gerald Nicosia
Gerald Nicosia will read from Beat Scrapbook at Sacred Grounds Café, hosted by Dan Brady on Haight Street in San Francisco-Wednesday June 9 (8PM Pacific Daylight Time) — A Zoom reading ) details below
Gerald Nicosia is the author of Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac, widely regarded as the definitive work on the father of the Beat Generation. Beat Scrapbook proves again, as Lionel Rolfe wrote in the Huffington Post, that “he also is a real poet, very much in the San Francisco tradition of Ferlinghetti, Patchen, Rexroth and Ginsberg.”
“Beat Scrapbook provides a powerful portrait of a wide range of voices that Nicosia knew. Many of these were not only steeped in Beat and post-Beat culture but also became touchstones for both a social and literary revolution.” — Lawrence Welch
“Nicosia has a definite gift for reportorial detail, one of the qualities of a good biographer. BEAT SCRAPBOOK contains a lot of disclosure and very little bullshit. Each poem contains a line or two—or four—that captures the essence of the subject. Beat readers looking for his take on the larger-than-life figures of the Beat Pantheon won’t be disappointed. BEAT SCRAPBOOK has something for almost everyone with twenty-three poems dedicated to major and minor Beat poets.” — Ryan Mathews, BEATDOM-21
“Beat Scrapbook is a remarkable celebration of life and a haunting elegy for family, friends and fellow poets. In a truly Beat extension of the great tradition of poetic remembrance, Gerald Nicosia homages the people he has loved and admired in his life. These poems take the reader through loss and grief to a hard-fought reconciliation with mortality, honoring friendship and passionate affection, moving from melancholy to the conferring of blessings, with poignant grace notes. Mourning and rapture merge in these fine portraits of lives lived creatively and on the edge. This is a profoundly moving and validating work. It is nothing less than a poetry of life and love over death.”
Review in Pacific Sun with Charlie Swanson
INTERVIEW in RAIN TAXI with LAWRENCE WELCH
Three Poems from BEAT SCRAPBOOK
The Beauties of my Generations [Various Beat(niks)]
PRAISE for BEAT SCRAPBOOK
Review in Red Fez with John Macker
Review in In The Inkwell with Benjamin Schmitt
Review in EuropeanBeatStudiesNetwork with Matthew Maclaughlin
Review in The Beat Handbook with Rick Dale
Live Radio Interviews and Events
• GERALD NICOSIA read from BEAT SCRAPBOOK on Zack Zopp’s Camp Elasticity website. Zoom reading on Thursday night (Sept. 24), at 10PM (Eastern Daylight Time)
“The power and force of the Beat movement in American letters and culture, the primary figures, the significant works and the far-ranging influence, have been examined and extolled by many, but in the end there is only Nicosia standing above the rest. As a historian of the heart he is unsurpassed. And now he gives us Beat Scrapbook, this beautiful poetic addendum to it all where he lets his heart speak in one eulogy after another to the many great souls he has known in this journey. What an outpouring of love and recognition!”
Gerald Nicosia’s Beat Scrapbook is something truly unusual: a passionate poetic outpouring of love and compassion that doesn’t contain an iota of sappiness. There isn’t a single negative or unkind thought in the entire collection, but there is no shying away from the tragedy or darkness of human trajectories here. Nicosia digs deep and bares his own soul with brutal honesty as he seeks to capture the essence of each poet he eulogizes. Expressing such profound, unbridled love and admiration for one’s friends and mentors without being maudlin is almost impossible: Beat Scrapbook does it better than any text I’ve ever encountered.
Born and educated in Chicago, Gerald Nicosia has spent the past forty years on the West Coast, mainly in the Bay Area. Best known for two large nonfiction works, Memory Babe: A Critical Biography of Jack Kerouac and Home to War: A History of the Vietnam Veterans’ Movement, he has also worked extensively as a journalist, poet, and organizer of literary events. His biography of Kerouac, Memory Babe, which first came out in 1983 with Grove Press, will soon be published in a fourth, updated and revised edition; and it has been translated into several languages, mostly recently into Mandarin, in Shanghai, China.
Having moved to San Francisco in 1979, Nicosia became part of the post-Beat circle of poets in the Bay Area, and eventually numbered many of the Beat poets, including Jack Micheline, Harold Norse, Gregory Corso, David Meltzer, Jerry Kamstra, Howard Hart, Joanna McClure, Lenore Kandel, and Janine Pommy Vega among his good friends. He would also edit poetry collections by two of those friends, Cranial Guitar (1996) by Bob Kaufman and Teducation (1999) by Ted Joans. Beginning with Lunatics, Lovers, Poets, Vets & Bargirls (1991), he also began publishing books of his own poetry, of which Beat Scrapbook is number six. His poetry collection Night Train to Shanghai was widely praised, and Huffington Post reviewer Lionel Rolfe wrote that Nicosia “is a real poet, very much in the San Francisco tradition of Ferlinghetti, Patchen, Rexroth and Ginsberg.” Rolfe compared Night Train to Shanghai to Blake’s poem about America and said the book was “maybe even a great volume of
poetry.” Nicosia also organized and took part in hundreds of public poetry readings, for which he often worked with the San Francisco Public Library and other Bay Area venues like the Unitarian Church, the Jewish Community Center, and Cloud House.
Nicosia has read his poetry throughout the United States and abroad, at such notable sites as Bob Holman’s Bowery Poetry Club in New York, Bob Weir’s Sweetwater Music Hall in Mill Valley, California, the Dylan Thomas Centre in Swansea, Wales, and Shakespeare & Company Bookstore in Paris. He was a close friend of the late poet and playwright Ntozake Shange and is currently working on a full critical biography of her.
In 2013, Nicosia received one of the first Acker Awards “for avant-garde excellence.” He lives in Marin County, California.