We're celebrating National Poetry Month on VPR Classical with 'poetic pairings'. Each weekday morning starts with a poetry reading followed by a piece of music that somehow fits the theme of the featured poem.
Today we hit the open road with a rambling reading by Jack Kerouac from his era-defining work, "The Beat Generation".
I had to really think about what music might work with the picture those words paint. Would it be Harry Partch (a favorite composer of mine) and his "Barstow", a song cycle with text taken from hitchhiker inscriptions found on California overpasses? Something jazzy? Or would it be something "cool" and "hip", the very musical embodiment of all that Kerouac represented?
In the end I chose a piece that swings AND speaks to the open road with which Kerouac is so closely associated. It's John Adams' "40% Swing", from his suite "Road Movies". I hope you enjoy it.
Listen for more poetic pairings this month, just after 8am weekdays on VPR Classical. You can also find out more about Vermont's month-long celebration of poetry, "Poetry Alive!" here. This is also a nice montage of Kerouac's "American Haiku" at YouTube.
(photo by Tom Palumbo, circa 1956)