“I first met Dean not long after my wife and I split up. “
“the only people for me are the mad ones, the ones who are mad to live, mad to talk, mad to be saved, desirous of everything at the same time, the ones who never yawn or say a commonplace thing, but burn, burn, burn like fabulous yellow roman candles exploding like spiders across the stars and in the middle you see the blue centerlight pop and everybody goes “Awww!’”
“Nothing behind me, everything ahead of me, as is ever so on the road.”
These and many other lines from Jack Kerouac‘s venerable novel, On The Road, were read aloud on March 10th. In fact, every line in the 89,610 word tome was read over 11 and a half hours as part of the 1st Annual On the Road Marathon Reading organized by the Pollard Memorial Library.
The reading began in the library following the invocation by saxophonist Dana Colley. Former Mayor and current City Councilor Edward Kennedy was the first of over one hundred guest readers who participated in the marathon session. Kennedy was an avid supporter of the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! festival during term as mayor.
Other readers scheduled during the event’s first hour included Lowell National Historical Park Superintendent Celeste Bernardo, City Councilor Karen Cirillo, State Senator Eileen Donoghue, Tsongas Industrial History Center director Sheila Kirshbaum, and Lowell High School Head of School Marianne Busteed, among others.
A pair of Mayor’s Aides past and present kicked off the second hour of speakers. James Ostis read wearing his hat as the President of the Lowell Heritage Partnership, while Jen Myers represented the Coalition for a Better Acre.
In true “On the Road” fashion, the event took place spread out over several locations. Following the kickoff at the library, readings continued at Gallery Z in the afternoon, before wrapping up at UnchARTed Gallery for the evening session.
Pollard Memorial Library Community Planning coordinator and Event organizer Sean Thibodeau estimated that 110 individuals participated in the reading (a few people ended up reading multiple passages.) Local actor and playwright Jerry Bisantz read the closing passage of the book at around 11:30 p.m.
Although this initial marathon reading was held on March 10th to celebrate Kerouac’s 96th birthday, organizers of the Lowell Celebrates Kerouac! Festival, held annually in October, intend on making similar readings part of their programming in the fall as well.
Click here for the Official Event Album of photos by Meg Moore.