by Lauren Ball
Like any good Orlando-native-literature-enthusiast will tell you, Beat Generation writer Jack Kerouac once walked the streets of Orlando. Before packing everything up and moving to New York in 1958 (where he met the likes of Allen Ginsberg and Neal Cassady), he resided in 1418 ½ Clouser Avenue – a small, unassuming cottage and the birthplace of Dharma Bums. Kerouac didn’t live in the Sunshine State for long and often drifted from city to city, preferring the open road to the stability of suburbia, but that doesn’t mean that Orlando has forgotten its only Beat Generation resident.
In fact, The Kerouac Project of Orlando was founded 1996 with the intention of bringing Orlando’s place in Kerouac’s journey to light. Today, the non-profit corporation now exists purely on donations, renting the house out to promising new writers in order to influence and hone their blossoming skills. The program functions on a seasonal basis, allowing ambitious writers to live rent and worry-free within the same rooms that Kerouac ate, slept, and wrote in for a few months at a time.
This year’s 2014/2015 residents are Annemarie Ni Churreain from Ireland, Robert Metcalf from New Zealand, Ciara Shuttleworth from New York/San Francisco, and Michele Roldan-Shaw from South Carolina. We wish them all a productive and inspiring stay!