Jack Would Speak” was written after the first biographies of Kerouac began to come out in the mid-70s. I found them very irritating because none of the authors seemed interested in how good Kerouac’s writing is, only in certain facts or suppositions about his life. I didn’t care about his life as a life. I’m not sure I care about anyone’s life that way, as if it were a story told according to contemporary conventions in thinking and judging another’s (or one’s) personal existence. So I wrote the poem in defense of his writing as if spoken by him – who knows? maybe he told me what to say.
Alice Notley, intvw in Ampersand Review