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Joey Tranchina: Beatitude – The Beat Attitude

A fresh and unusually deep dive into the Beats and their legacy through rarely seen portraits of Burroughs, McClure and more

This volume offers a fresh, deep look at the Beat movement that changed the world in the decades following World War II. The book draws from the archive of little-known poet/photographer Joey Tranchina, who began documenting Beat culture in 1970. He chronicled surviving Beat predecessors and bohemians from the 1930s; he located the Beat founders from the East and West Coasts and their descendants, creative spirits from both the visual and performing arts and from public policy and science. His photographs cast a wide net: the Beat precursors Kenneth Rexroth and Thelonious Monk, founders Allen Ginsberg and William S. Burroughs, and early feminist poets Diane di Prima and Lenore Kandel. Beat culture welcomed poets of social and cultural change Amiri Baraka and Yevgeny Yevtushenko, and folk singers David Crosby and Phil Ochs, punk master Iggy Pop, rocker Country Joe McDonald, and activists Louis Lomax and Miriam Patchen.

Critic and art historian Anthony Bannon discovers a strong Beat aesthetic among the more than 80 artists depicted by Tranchina, stretching into the 21st century. Bannon argues that central to the Beat ethos are the concepts of spirit, change, freedom and values. Tranchina’s photographs lead the way to appreciating these remarkable men and women; through their stories Beatitude illuminates both their experiences and this moment in history.

Born in Northern California in 1945, Joey Tranchina is a poet, photographer and activist. He worked with San Francisco State’s Poetry Center to present visiting artists and created the largest archive of first, second and third generation Beat poets by a single photographer. Few of Tranchina’s Beat portraits have been published, save for a handful in the San Francisco literary bulletin Poetry Flash and the 1980 Cody’s Calendar of Contemporary Poets. The entirety of his Beat archive was discovered in 2019.

Featured image is reproduced from ‘Joey Tranchina: Beatitude'

Steidl Verlag (29. June 2021)
Edited with text by Anthony Bannon. Foreword by Ed Sanders.
Hardcover 176 pages

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