In mid-September 1963, John Clellon Holmes and his wife Shirley left Old Saybrook to attend the Iowa Writers’ Workshop. They rented an old farmhouse outside of Iowa City, and Holmes, in his journal, used the term “gypsy” as a verb for the first time to describe his emotions. Founded in 1936, the Iowa Writers’ Workshop was recognized as the premier graduate program in creative writing in America. One of the instructors was Holmes’s friend, Vance Bourjaily, now living comfortably in Iowa City. Meanwhile, Jack Kerouac published Visions of Gerard, a fictionalized memoir of the death of his older brother when Kerouac was four. However, the book received negative reviews. Moreover, a lawsuit was filed in Italy against another book, The Subterraneans, for pornography, while Get Home Free received uneven reviews. As Holmes was preparing the manuscript for his collection of essays, Nothing More to Declare, Kerouac continued to have difficulty finding a publisher for Desolation Angels.
Keywords: creative writing, John Clellon Holmes, Iowa Writers’ Workshop, Vance Bourjaily, Jack Kerouac, Visions of Gerard, Subterraneans, Get Home Free, Desolation Angels