“Would you like to meet the secret Beat?” – Tram Combs and a Beat poetry less celebrated

Research output: Contribution to conference without publisher/journalPaper without publisher/journalResearchpeer-review

Abstract

My friend Gorm H. Rasmussen, a Danish poet, novelist and travel writer, is a great fan of the Beat writers and many other American authors. One afternoon in November 2009 he was staking out Paul Auster in what is purportedly this author’s favorite café in Brooklyn. Frustrated that the writer had failed to make an appearance, Gorm decided to stroll the streets a bit at random – perhaps hoping to summon Auster through this act of repeating Stillman’s rambling in the Auster novel City of Glass. After a while he felt compelled to enter a Chinese restaurant and sample the buffet. During his meal he felt persistently gazed upon by an elderly gentleman, and being an outgoing sort of fellow, Gorm soon engaged in conversation with this stranger. After having told him that he was on a quest to connect with places and persons connected to – among other things – the Beat Generation, the old man stared directly at Gorm, and asked: “Would you like to meet the secret Beat, then?” The old gentleman proceeded to introduce himself as Tram Combs, poet, bookseller, nude model and gay man about town, and for the next few days he took Gorm to art museums, gallery openings and story-telling sessions in his apartment above the Chinese restaurant – only interrupted by the modeling sessions that Combs, then 85, garnered a considerable portion of his income from.
My paper at this year’s EBSN conference proposes to mix narrative scholarship as in the above sample, with an analysis and contextualization of the poetry of Tram Combs, “the secret Beat”, whose 1957 collection Pilgrim’s Terrace contained forewords by both William Carlos Williams and Kenneth Rexroth, and whose collaborators included Allen Ginsberg – yet whose name is persistently left out of the Beat canon. One wonders why, when he is an example of an itinerant, queer poet and bibliophile who spent considerable time on both American coasts and in the former Danish West Indies, now Virgin Islands – describing his experiences there in a breathless poetic diction that owes equal measure to a Beat aesthetics and a post-colonial political ethics?
Original languageEnglish
Publication date25 Jun 2016
Number of pages9
Publication statusPublished - 25 Jun 2016
EventEuropean Beat Studies Network - The Wonder Inn, Manchester, United Kingdom
Duration: 25 Jun 201629 Jun 2016
Conference number: 5th annual
https://ebsn.eu/2016-conference-manchester-uk/

Conference

ConferenceEuropean Beat Studies Network
Number5th annual
LocationThe Wonder Inn
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityManchester
Period25/06/201629/06/2016
Internet address

Keywords

  • American Literature
  • Caribbean Literature
  • Beat Generation
  • Poetry

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