Poetry is the Voice of the Heart- Happy Birthday Jack Kerouac!

How to write from the heart. I wanted to invite all of you to begin to write if you don’t already. Gather some fresh white paper and a nice ink pen, tea and silence. I did the Summer Writing Program at the Naropa Institute (University), The Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics, a few years back and had the good fortune to study with Allen Ginsberg himself along with the other remaining beat poets that taught there.

I’m feeling nostalgic tonite, on the eve of Kerouac’s birthday. I just read that Naropa, my alma mater, was struggling financially and may be forced to claim bankruptcy. My entire past, all of my friends, my dharma community and the tradition as it is, is waning now.

Will we regret simply not making the necessary changes, being ethical and accountable to have saved it all? Will all of the magic and blessings that I recall -basalt to bone- wane and wither? It is unfathomable to see these communities crumble now like milkweeds in the wind, all I can hope is something more modern, magnetizing and ethical arises in their place. I’ll keep the torch alive in me for as long as my time remains.

I’m not a great writer, but I wanted to share a few sentences of what I learned during my time with the beat poets. Allen told me directly, to feel what you want to say and then communicate that feeling through things that we can all consensually perceive through the five senses. He said don’t annotate or be descriptive about your experience, but use concrete examples of images and sounds and tastes and things we can touch to communicate what your heart wants to express. They didn’t have us bother with grammar or punctuation or capitalization with our poetry or prose or haikus, but of course any academic papers, resume or professional expressions, we had to follow the APA format. Here is our 30 point bible, thanks to our founder himself, and a sample poem spun out tonite. Try these yourself, and you may uncover your own mad-wisdom brilliance, indeed- “blow as deep as you want to blow.”

jack kerouac

Kerouac’s 30 Rules for Writing

  1. Scribbled secret notebooks, and wild typewritten pages, for yr own joy
  2. Submissive to everything, open, listening
  3. Try never get drunk outside yr own house
  4. Be in love with yr life
  5. Something that you feel will find its own form
  6. Be crazy dumbsaint of the mind
  7. Blow as deep as you want to blow
  8. Write what you want bottomless from bottom of the mind
  9. The unspeakable visions of the individual
  10. No time for poetry but exactly what is
  11. Visionary tics shivering in the chest
  12. In tranced fixation dreaming upon object before you
  13. Remove literary, grammatical and syntactical inhibition
  14. Like Proust be an old tea-head of time
  15. Telling the true story of the world in interior monologue
  16. The jewel center of interest is the eye within the eye
  17. Write in recollection and amazement for yourself
  18. Work from pithy middle eye out, swimming in language sea
  19. Accept loss forever
  20. Believe in the holy contour of life
  21. Struggle to sketch the flow that already exists intact in mind
  22. Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better
  23. Keep track of every day the date emblazoned in yr morning
  24. No fear or shame in the dignity of yr experience, language & knowledge
  25. Write for the world to read and see yr exact pictures of it
  26. Bookmovie is the movie in words, the visual American form
  27. In praise of Character in the Bleak inhuman Loneliness
  28. Composing wild, undisciplined, pure, coming in from under, crazier the better
  29. You’re a Genius all the time
  30. Writer-Director of Earthly movies Sponsored & Angeled in Heaven

https://www.writing.upenn.edu/~afilreis/88/kerouac-technique.html


Here is a poem from my private poetry blog- it’s in the same style of my beat lineage fathers, however I’m not nearly as talented. I write it all in one sitting, with almost no editing and traditional Kerouac/Cummings ignoring of grammar rules and capitalization. I feel firstly the stirring in the heart and then allow pictures from the senses to come to me, I simply write them down just as they want to be birthed.

Try it yourself, settle in, listen to the ebb and flow, the rumblings of the heart voice and let that create the words through you. How often do we really allow our hearts to speak?

Indeed as Kerouac says in kind of a cryptic way:

“Don’t think of words when you stop but to see picture better.”


Get Out Of Jail Free

if i could only reach
deep into my
chest cavity

and release
the heart that
pulses alive

behind a
cage of ribs

i guess it’s built
to be caged
so it won’t fly away
or burst

but oooh
mine could fly
away any day

i built a
transparent altar
to him once

and imagined
an offering of
a garland of
saffron marigolds
jasmine and gems

giver and receiver
are one

the heart leaks
alive
the slow drip
of syllables

Dawn Boiani-Sandberg ©2022

Image: Brown and Black Fountain Pen on White Paper

Uploaded at March 20, 2017 License

✓ Free to use. ✓ No attribution required.
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