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In 1982, at Naropa University – founded by legendary Beat writer Alan Ginsberg – William S. Burroughs gave arguably one of his finest lectures on the art and craft of writing.

Burroughs talks of his friendship with fellow writer Jack Kerouac and explores Kerouac’s art and influence as a writer. Here also, we get a sense of Burroughs’ own unique insights into the craft of writing and a glimpse into some of the important influences that Kerouac had on his own work, as well as the extraordinary impact that the Beat generation have had on the history of twentieth century literature.

In Burroughs’ characteristically quirky yet insightful approach to his subject matter – the question of “who is a writer”, what writers are doing in their work, and what it means to be a writer – Burroughs makes some important remarks about Kerouac, both as a person and as a writer, and addresses a number of questions surrounding Kerouac’s life and work.

The Naropa lecture also provides a major springboard for examining a wide range of questions surrounding the Beat movement.


Can you all hear me? Good.

Someone asked Beckett what he thought of Burroughs’ work and he said rather grudgingly, “Well, he’s a writer.”

So certainly that’s true of Kerouac. I’m quoting here from a historic memoir of Americas greatest existentialist…he was the greatest existing exister. Certainly a meaningless word. Continua a leggere/Continue reading

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