Review by Samantha Mastridge

Pomes all Sizes
by Jack Kerouac
ISBN 0-87286-269-0





A book of poems by Jack Kerouac is something one expects to see being held by some thin, pale person dressed all in black and lounging in the corner of a smoky dive bar or coffeehouse. This person, this beatnik dreamer, is scribbling notes in the margins all about how they wish to remove themselves from the bourgeois trappings around them and take to the freedom of the road. The Pocket Poets Series is trying to change this image.

Pomes all Sizes is a portrait of Kerouac at his best. It’s full of poems about Mexico, Tangier, Berkeley, and the Bowery. It’s got poems to his friends, to the road, to drugs, wine, and gods of all sizes. The poems are goofy, quirky, serious, inspiring, and sad. It’s a collection that encompasses Kerouac encompassing the human condition. With a foreword by Allen Ginsberg and cover art by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Pomes all Sizes is a true, rare treasure of American culture. The manuscript itself was written between 1959 and 1965, and from Kerouac’s death in 1969 until its publication in 1992 it was kept safe in the hands of City Life Books.

The world is old
And wise
And I am tired
Of my eyes
-34 Gatha

As brilliant as the content is, City Lights has made an even more brilliant move by making the book pocket size. It easily fits in a purse or briefcase, and so can be read anywhere-at stoplights, on subways, in a traffic jam. Even the banker or the lawyer can sneak furtive looks at their pocket sized Kerouac, scribble notes in its margins, and then hide it away so as to maintain their look of respectability. Because the book takes up so little space, it can even be stuffed into a backpack and taken on the road; it’ll be difficult for any reader to resist the free spirit contained within these pages. A model of efficiency, its 175 pages can each be torn out and used along the road, as toilet paper, napkins, or a hostess gift for a beatnik unexpectedly descending on relatives. While this book functions well in the hidden corners of bars and coffeehouses, it attains its full use in the heart and mind of mankind.


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