Do you have to be young and unbound to family and job to gallivant through life like a poet? Is it possible to have the family and the stable occupation yet still somehow breathe experience deeply and move where the spirit takes you?
Not an easy question. But don't think -- be. Be yourself and be open to beatitude, for just one night, with the pioneering Beatnik writers no longer living.
River Styx and Paul Thiel present "Day of the Dead Beats," a reading of the work of Beatniks dead by St. Louisans live at Blueberry Hill Monday night.
Writers represented include Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Jack Kerouac, Helen Adam, Denise Levertov, Bob Kaufman and Charles Bukowski. The readers include Harry Sky Campbell, Jan Garden Castro, Mike Castro, Phil Gounis, "Uncle" Bill Green, Ann Haubrich, Marvin Holman, Shirley LaFlore, Maria Massey, Erika Neading, Mike O'Brien, Tom "Papa" Ray, Lennie Smith, Danny Spell and Paul Thiel. Sky Kingsland will bang the bongos.
Thiel, along with the Castros, lived in San Francisco when the Beats were peeling away from the rest of us, and he befriended Ginsberg. The local poet says that the Beats taught him that "poetry didn't have to just be some academic exercise; it could come from the soul and the streets."
Thiel, who also organized the public reading of works by St. Louis Walk of Fame authors in January, decided to go ahead with a second dead Beats reading after attending the recent screening of The Source at Webster University. The documentary by Chuck Workman about the Beats and their heavy cultural influence begins with the historic meeting of Ginsberg, Kerouac and Burroughs. Thiel, noting that the theater was packed, recognized the public's appetite for more things Beat.
The other side of Beat life isn't exactly thrilling. Some writers were actually deadbeat dads, leaving wives and children behind to find themselves and have adventures. It ain't easy to balance the call of the wild and grownup responsibilities in this society or most others.
Listeners are encouraged to come in stereotypical Beatnik garb -- black turtlenecks, shades, berets, clunky necklaces and goatees.
"Day of the Dead Beats" takes place at 8 p.m. Nov. 1, Mexico's Day of the Dead, in the Piano Room at Blueberry Hill, 6504 Delmar. Call 727-0880 for more information.