I Am Not Beat

I am not Beat. I am not even counter-culture, not really (I'm not sure there is one). I am English. I am middle-class. My sensibility may have more in common with Kingsley Amis than Jack Kerouac, though I prefer the latter. I like having a nice cottage to live in. Of my two closest friends only one is a poet. The other is a cook, though that label defines her with no more accuracy than "poet" defines me. For too long I have tried to adapt my own mind to suit my literary taste. I have tried to be Beat rather than just appreciate the Beats as writers and find my own voice. I have had a continual conflict between the reality of my life, and my fantasy of what it should be. And this, more than anything else, is what has caused my depression. It has been, fundamentally, a 25-year-long tantrum against what is, as if forcing my angst on the world about its failure to enable my Kerouac daydream to become reality might make the world change its mind.
But when I look at my life as it is, I have to say it's not at all bad. There may even be some poetry there, though the life would not be given extra meaning if there were. Nor would it be robbed of meaning if there were no poetry there at all. Nothing on the page or the computer screen can elicit a feeling like I get sitting in a quiet room with my friend sharing coffee and laughing out loud about some vulgar joke we have made.

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