“This Universal Experience Of Being Alive”

The Library of America is set to release Jack Kerouac's Collected Poems. In an interview, the volume's editor, Marilene Phipps-Kettlewell, describes Kerouac's enduring appeal:

I heard the late Peter Gomes say in a sermon that the Incarnation proved a success when Christ cried out from the cross, “Father, why have you abandoned me!”—Christ felt then fully what it is like to be born human.

Kerouac’s poems still speak to us because he did undress for us, in order to reach this element of Soul that we all share, this universal experience of being alive, the human abandonment—the rage, the fear, the pain; the desire to partake of more of the goodness we encounter all too rarely, and which we could distribute much more selflessly, if it weren’t for the rage, the fear, the pain . . . we recognize it all in Kerouac’s poems, we empathize with him while being moved.

For true obsessives, the Kerouac scholar Paul Maher, Jr. sifts through the writer's archives to show what the new volume of poetry contains and what was left unpublished. Previous Dish Kerouac coverage here, here, and here.