The Beat Generation was a literary movement thought to have sprouted from post-war disillusionment during the early 1950s right into the 1960s. This disillusionment was misplaced however, as the beginning of the 1950s led to newfound optimism and hope for the rejuvenated economy since the Great Depression and the victory in the Second World War. The Beat movement was in reality the rejection of American societal views of norms and political systems. The term ‘beat’ came from Herbert Huncke, a junkie from Times Square. However it was Jack Kerouac who described his generation as being a “beat generation” (meaning tired, exhausted, worn out), the word beat most likely originating with black jazz musicians. The Beat poets comprised of Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, Bob Kaufman and others, all experiencing different levels of success. They used their recognition to spread their beliefs which included the rejection of mainstream American values, ranging from experimentation with drugs to homosexuality while keeping a spiritual approach. A number of the poets criticised America’s participation in the Cold War and the negative views of communism that came along with it. This was the result of a hopeful America looking forward to the future of the country, even while there was still paranoia and fabricated fear of a third world war and the invasion of communism. The Beats saw this fear as a creation by the American government to encourage more dependence on American culture and subsequently reject the introduction of anything outside of it. To spread their criticism of America to the masses, the poets began by attending open mic nights in bars while jazz musicians sometimes accompanied them as they read aloud. This collaboration led to a burgeoning relationship between poetry and using it as a form of protest in order to communicate beliefs and expressing one’s values.

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