March 3, 2017
Allen Ginsberg and friends at a Beatnik pad
Here are some notes and rough draft material I wrote for my Historical Dictionary of the Beat Movement on Seymour Krim and his anthology.
Seymour Krim(1922-1989). “Krim has been on the literary scene too long; could go either rotten or ripe. The beat writers opened him up and he now stands a good chance to speak his piece instead of going through the motions. A nice guy with a touch of nasty.” Thus Seymour Krim writes about himself in his anthology The Beats, first published in 1960. Krim was born on 11 May 1922 and died of apparent suicide on 30 August 1989. He attended the University of North Carolina and was a respected member of the literary and media establishment in the 1950s when he discovered the writers of the Beat Movement and credited them for turning him into a real writer. His short story “The Insanity Bit” appears in The Beats, and he wrote respectable prose journalism and New Journalism for many years before his death.
But as far as the Beat Movement is concerned, his little anthology, The Beats, was his significant achievement. The Beats was published as a mass market paperback original first in 1961 and reissued with a new introduction in 1963. Its cool black and white cover image of a goateed beatnik (an uncredited Allen Ginsberg) in deep conversation in his Beat pad with an aloof beat chick calmly puffing a cigarette established an image of beatnik cool that was to persist among young intellectuals into the 1960s. The headnote blurbs on the new young Beat writers were written in the Beat slang of the day, setting the tone for the entire book.
In later years Seymour Krim was a regular writer for the New Yorker, once called by Tom Dent “the poor man’s Norman Mailer” (1980, 106). He taught writing at a number of universities including the Iowa Writers Workshop.
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