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Kerouac’s 90th Birthday a Blast to Remember

Weekend of Events Planned

Kerouac Radio
Jack Kerouac would surely enjoy the discussions and parties planned for his 90th birthday in Lowell.

By Julia Gavin

Even from beyond the grave, Jack Kerouac knows how to throw a party.

Literary discussions, impromptu readings, pub tours and a 90th birthday party to rival any 21st are on the docket for Lowell Celebrates Kerouac’s annual Kerouac birthday events running March 8 – 12. March 12, Kerouac's actual birthday, has even been proclaimed "Jack Kerouac Day" by the governor. For the full list of events, visit the official website.

UMass Lowell works with community partners to bring new life to Kerouac's memory in his hometown.  The Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for the Public Humanities, directed by Prof. Michael Millner of the English Department, recently helped to install a new exhibit piece focusing on Kerouac's life in Lowell at the Lowell National Historical Park and is currently working on a new academic website about the author. Prof. Todd Tietchen, who recently joined the English Department, is an internationally recognized expert on Kerouac and his literary contemporaries. He says that teaching about Kerouac in his hometown is an excellent opportunity to understand the author and his work on a level not available to students in other locations.

Several of the events take place on campus or feature Profs. Millner and Tietchen:

Introduction to Kerouac’s recently released novel, "The Sea Is My Brother"
March 8, 4 p.m. in O’Leary 222
Dawn Ward, editor of Kerouac’s “lost novel” will discuss the project and hold a book-signing

An Evening with John Sampas
March 8, 7:30 p.m., Lowell National Historical Park Visitors Center, 246 Market St.
John Sampas, literary executor of the estate of Jack and Stella Kerouac, will discuss his history with his famed brother-in-law and Kerouac’s estate with Profs. Millner and Tietchen.

Kerouac at 90 Panel Discussion
March 10, 1 – 2:30 p.m., Boott Cotton Mills Museum Event Center, Foot of John St.
Prof. Tietchen will lead a discussion about Kerouac’s life and influence featuring: Steve Edington, UMass Lowell instructor, former president of LCK and author of The Beat Face of God; John McHale, professor at Salem State University; and Marilene Phipps-Kettlewell, award-winning author and painter, who is presently editing Kerouac's poetry for the Library of America.

Jack Kerouac 90th Birthday Celebration
March 10, 8 p.m. – midnight, The Back Page at 15 Kearney Square behind the Blue Taleh Restaurant
Celebrate the man of the hour with a full night of literary fun. Live jazz music, the reading of the official proclamation naming March 12 “Jack Kerouac Day” in Massachusetts by Lowell’s Mayor Patrick Murphy and a dramatic reading of “Jack’s Last Call,” a play by Patrick Fenton featuring the author and Jerry Bisantz of Lowell’s Image Theater. $5 donation is requested.