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Vol. 7 No. i (2019): Spring 2019

Controlling the Narrative: Joyce Johnson and Self-Definition in Women's Beat Literature

November 27, 2023


Recounting her 1962 trip to India with Gary Snyder and Peter Orlovsky, Beat poet Joanne Kyger writes, “Here I am reading about your trip to India/with Gary Synder and Peter Orlovsky. Period./Who took the picture of you three/With smart Himalayan backdrop/The bear?” (R. Johnson). In this poem, Kyger complains about Ginsberg’s refusal to acknowledge her involvement in their trip to India and, in writing the poem, she inserts herself back into a narrative from which she had been erased (R. Johnson). The patriarchal structure within the Beat movement created a means to silence many women’s narratives, something which prompted many of those women to write and publish memoirs years after the fact. This paper analyzes how Jack Kerouac attempts to control or subdue Joyce Johnson’s
narrative, as portrayed in her memoir, Minor Characters, and how this control manifests in her novel, Come and Join the Dance.