Big Sur | Lowell | Orlando | San Franciso | Northport


The Jack Kerouac Big Sur Readings reaffirm that what a few of us felt in the 1950s has now become a reality .Those of us lucky enough to know and work with Jack in the 50s always realized that in spite of the phenomenal success of "On the Road ," Jack was no one shot flash in the pan. He was first and foremost a great writer, and devoted to his work at all costs. he wrote eleven books from his heart and soul in near total obscurity before "On the Road" made him a world wide literary icon.

"Big Sur" is a riveting account of what unwanted notoriety does to a true artist. The book takes us on his roller coaster journey as he deals with all of the triumphs and trauma of this period of his life. Jack was and remains his own best spokesman and biographer. He also was a reporter for our era, and a poet speaking for an underground army of people who had no voice that could ever surface to be heard.

These historic four city readings of "Big Sur," presented by George Wallace and a distinguished group of readers also puts into perspective four of the cities as well as many of the people who were sigificant in Jack's life, but have yet to be acknowledged by those who feel that every person or locale outside of Manhattan is doomed to be judged as T.S. Eliot's Wasteland.

The four cities chosen for this celebration are all significant influences in Jack's life and work.


Lowell remains the gyroscope of his life and spirit. He was born, grew up, often returned and is buried there. The annual "Lowell Celebrates Kerouac" is the most signifigant event that has yet occured to honor their native son. Most of us still alive who knew Jack feel that to understand Jack, you have to go to Lowell.

Orlando was where he wrote some of his great work and took the historic bus ride to New York in 1957 to re- join Joyce Johnson, who wired him $30 for the bus ticket in the event that "On the Road" got any good reviews. His old house in Orlando's College Park that he shared with his mother is now a full-time writers residence, named in his honor, for new artists to carry on his tradition of tireless work. And of course in 1961 this is the town where Jack wrote Big Sur.

San Franciso was one of the two magical places that all of us brought up in the East Coast dreamed of. Denver Colorado, Neal's hometown, and San Francisco California, the Western jewel of a city that was a magnet for poets, painters, musicians and dreamers of all persuasions.

Northport was another place close to Jack's heart. I'll never forget his excitement when he told me "Davey, I bought a house for my mother and me. She'll never have to work another day of her life in a factory. It's almost like Lowell. Working people, warm, good place to write, away from the madness. It feels like home."

My co-chairperson, author and Jack's lifelong friend and soulmate Carolyn Cassady has agreed to come all the way from England with her son John from California to participate in this historic tribute. At the conclusion of our seven hour marathon reading in Northport during the day, they will both join me, with my daughter Adira, in a gala concert at Heckscher Park at 8 pm. following the all day reading. My quartet will present a free family concert - "A Family Tribute to Jack: From Cairo to Kerouac." The concert will feature music from around the world as well as classics of jazz and Latin music from the 50s, performed by my quartet. In addition, two generations of two his oldest surviving friends, Carolyn Cassady and her son John as well as my daughter Adira Amram and myself, will give short readings of Jack's work with musical accompanment during the concert, the way Jack and I did at the first-ever Jazz poetry readings in NYC in November of 1957 that we did together 45 years ago.

It is an honor for all of us around the country to be part of the Big Sur readings. As we see Jack assume his rightful place as a giant of American letters, every artist of every discipline can be inspired by Jack's example to pursue their own dreams, follow their heart and never give up the struggle to achieve excellence in their chosen work.
Merci, Jack pour tous. Thank you, George Wallace and all the readers and volunteers for making this dream a reality.

-David Amram