Trillium Book Awards Author Reading 2015

Happy Birthday, Jack

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Happy Birthday, Jack

I would be beside myself if I didn't take a moment to write a birthday note to the late Jack Kerouac, who was born on this day (March 12, 1922–October 21, 1969) and to whom I owe much praise.

Yes of course his infamous On the Road affected the hearts and minds of many generations of young Western kids (including my own). I loved that he was the curious balance of enlightened and derailed, quiet and loud. I wrote about him in my first full-length poetry collection (Ex Nihilo, 2010) or more precisely, about meeting his taxi driving old friend who I was shocked to meet and who kindly drove me to his grave in the rain in Lowell, Massachusetts.

I've read all his novels, poems, yet Kerouac continues to elude me. And I think that's because I never took the time to understand him as a religious and meditative man, only a ridiculously charismatic and prismatic, city-life loving one.

He dabbled with meditative writings mainly in the “Golden Eternity" which is a text that continues to baffle me in the best of ways. When he writes, "Thinking’s just like not thinking", it gets you, well, thinking.

Anyhow I am thinking of his influence in my writerly life today, the satori of his words, and hope that in the shade of mystery is how he would have liked to be remembered.

The views expressed in the Writer-in-Residence blogs are those held by the authors and do not necessarily reflect the views of Open Book: Toronto.

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Adebe DeRango-Adem

Adebe DeRango-Adem is a writer and doctoral student at the University of Pennsylvania. Her work has been published in various North American sources, including Descant, CV2, Canadian Woman Studies and the Toronto Star. She won the Toronto Poetry Competition in 2005 to become Toronto’s first Junior Poet Laureate. Her debut poetry collection, Ex Nihilo, was longlisted for the Dylan Thomas Prize. She is also the co-editor, alongside Andrea Thompson, of Other Tongues: Mixed-Race Women Speak Out. She was recommended by current Poet Laureate of Canada George Elliott Clarke as a young black "writer to watch".

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