80. Celebrating Jack Kerouac’s 100th Birthday w/ Tim Hernandez & Nate Jordan

In honor of Jack Kerouac’s 100th birthday, Dan invited writers and fellow Naropa alumni Tim Hernandez & Nate Jordan to talk about how Kerouac influenced their writing & personal journeys. They discuss Tim’s 2013 novel about Bea Franco (Terry/”The Mexican Girl” from On the Road) Mañana Means Heaven, understanding the influence of the published Joan Anderson Letter (2020) on Kerouac’s writing style, the importance of Neal Cassady, Kerouac the spiritual and knowledge seeker, and so much more.

This is the first of three special Kerouac episodes being released this month.

Tim Z. Hernandez is an award winning poet, novelist, research scholar, and performance artist. His debut collection of poetry, Skin Tax (Heyday Books) received the 2006 American Book Award from the Before Columbus Foundation, and the James Duval Phelan Award from the San Francisco Foundation. His debut novel, Breathing, In Dust (Texas Tech University Press) was featured on NPR’s All Things Considered, and went on to receive the 2010 Premio Aztlan Prize in Fiction. His second collection of poetry, Natural Takeover of Small Things was released in 2013 and received the 2014 Colorado Book Award, and his novel, Mañana Means Heaven, which is based on the life of Bea Franco, also released in 2013, went on the receive the 2014 International Latino Book Award in historical fiction. Both books are with the University of Arizona Press. His latest book, All They Will Call You, was released on January 28, 2017, also with the University of Arizona Press.

Nate Jordon is a writer and photographer in Pueblo, Colorado. After decades of traveling and working in several beautiful states, Nate has finally planted roots in 2020. His passion for Colorado began in 2006, when he originally moved to Boulder for graduate school. Nate continues to travel with his wife and three kids, exploring the Centennial State and the entire Southwest. His musings about travel, his tragic attempt at full-time RVing, his misadventures in Dadhood and all things Dadlife and other viscera can be found at natejordon.com and screamsfromthetrees.com.

People and Texts Mentioned in this Episode

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“Jack Kerouac kind of blew my mind as a young man […] I didn’t know you could write like that […] or that the written word could be treated as an art form.”
–Nate Jordan

“[On the Road] was one of the first books I finished from beginning to end that wasn’t required by a teacher and it gave me permission to exercise that desire to go out into the world and see things. It wasn’t about Kerouac’s writing for me; it was what he was saying.”
–Tim Hernandez

“Some people have said you know [I] went in and wrote the counter-narrative as if it was some intentional maneuver to push against [Kerouac], and while yeah sure that’s there, you know obviously very intentional, but for me it felt more like he was inviting me in to write [and] fill in those gaps; it felt more like it was in conversation with [Kerouac] and not sort of in opposition of him.”
–Tim Hernandez

“That’s what was so beautiful I think about that experience [at Naropa] that we were learning from the people that lived it.”
–Tim Hernandez

“One of the things that was important to me, in my experience at Naropa and then my relationship with the Cassady family was learning who the men were behind all the hoopla and the hype […] and I think it’s one of the things that hurt Neal [Cassady] and killed him, and one of the things that killed Jack [Kerouac], was all the hoopla built around who they were and what the media did to them and the attention.”
–Nate Jordan

“Jack [Kerouac] ultimately wanted to be respected [as] a writer, you know, I guess, you know, the world just didn’t want to accept him.”
–Nate Jordan

“A lot of people will credit Kerouac for spawning a revolution of American literature, but if you look at it, it was Cassady who actually started it with this Joan Anderson Letter, that’s the Holy Grail, that’s the thing that really started everything.”
–Nate Jordan

“What I loved so much about [Kerouac’s] writing, and I didn’t know this until later, but he’s a seeker […] at his core he was seeking something, a richer deeper meaning, he was trying to figure that out, and it often includes spirituality […] in all of his texts, in all of his writing you get a sense of he’s seeking for some spiritual meaning, and to me, without my realizing it, that’s what I’ve always been seeking too.”  
–Tim Hernandez

“Breathe the air that you’re writing about, taste the dirt that you’re writing about, be in that space.”
–Tim Hernandez

This episode was recorded on March 8th, 2022. Because we recorded via Zoom, there may be occasional audio hiccups. Our theme song is “4 am” by Makaih Beats. You can subscribe to the podcast on Apple PodcastsSpotify, and Stitcher and follow us on Twitter @WritingRemixPod.

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