Monday, April 9, 2007

Kerouac's Take on Bread Loaf

Attributed to Henry Morley (John Montgomery) is this rather amusing quote from The Dharma Bums (1958) that might accurately describe the School of Quietude writers of today. It comes from page 46, when Ray Smith and Japhy Ryder stop in a backwoods roadhouse filled with deer hunters on their way to Matterhorn Peak with Morley.

"Not that I feel very expansive about being around here in this curious bar anyway, it looks like the homeplate of Ciardi and Bread Loaf writers, Armenian grocers all of 'em, well-meaning awkward protestants who are on a group excursion of a binge and want to but don't understand how to insert the contraception."
Digging around on the web, I found out that "Ciardi" refers to John Ciardi, the long-time director of the Middlebury's Bread Loaf Writer's Conference. From the Wikipedia entry about him, it seems he was a literary gatekeeper of sorts who lost his mojo in the counterculture of the late 60s. "He urged his only remaining students, those at Bread Loaf for two weeks each August, to learn how to write within the tradition before abandoning it in favor of undisciplined, improvisational free verse" (Wikipedia)

No comments: