The Hustler Who Inspired the Beats

With Good Reason

Image courtesy Gordon Ball

Image courtesy Gordon Ball


The author of a new book about Herbert Huncke says his unrepentant deviance caught the imagination of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs. Former VFH Fellow Hilary Holladay (James Madison University) writes that Huncke (rhymes with “junky”) often said, “I’m beat, man.” His line gave Kerouac the label for a generation seeking spiritual sustenance and “kicks” in post-war America.

Also featured: During the late 1960s, poet Allen Ginsberg bought a farm in New York to serve as “a haven for comrades in distress.” Gordon Ball, who was the farm manager, has written a book about his experience, East Hill Farm: Seasons with Allen Ginsberg. Ball also teaches a course on Ginsberg and the Beat Generation to young cadets at Virginia Military Institute.

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