Beat Influences in Dutch and Flemish Literature

Authored by: Jaap van der Bent

The Routledge Handbook of International Beat Literature

Print publication date:  May  2018
Online publication date:  May  2018

Print ISBN: 9780415785457
eBook ISBN: 9781315210278
Adobe ISBN:


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Although the odd book by a Beat-writer-to-be, like Jack Kerouac’s The Town and the City, had been reviewed in Holland earlier, the origin of the Beat influence on Dutch writing is found in the meeting of Simon Vinkenoog (1928–2009) with Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and Peter Orlovsky in 1957. In late September 1957 the three American poets, who had been staying in Paris but had traveled on to Amsterdam, met Vinkenoog in a jazz club called Bohemia. The meeting soon turned into a friendship which led to an exchange of ideas about life and literature and to a number of collaborations. On October 4 Vinkenoog and another Dutch writer, Adriaan Morriën, were present when Ginsberg, in the company of Corso and Orlovsky, composed his poem “POEM Rocket,” inspired by the launching of the first Russian Sputnik; in certain parts of that poem Ginsberg was helped out not only by his two American friends, but also by Vinkenoog and Morriën. The latter, as one of the editors of a Dutch literary magazine devoted to foreign literature, Litterair Paspoort, was quick to ask Corso to write an article about the new writing in America that he and his friends seemed to represent. That article, “The Literary Revolution in America,” turned out to be another collaboration; while it was published, in November 1957, under Corso’s name, some of the ideas about the new writing in the United States, not only that of the Beats but for instance also that of New York poets like John Ashbery and Frank O’Hara, were put in at the suggestion of Ginsberg and Orlovsky. In the meantime, after Ginsberg had given him a copy of “Howl”, Vinkenoog had written a shorter piece about the new American poets (which in his case included not just Ginsberg and Corso, but also Philip Lamantia, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen), which was published in the leading Dutch weekly Vinkenoog worked for at the time, Haagse Post.

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