DIY Celebrates Kerouac!

Until April 16, DIY Lowell is looking for ideas honoring Jack Kerouac's creativity and spirit for Kerouac@100, the 100th anniversary of the birth of the Lowellian author and poet, Jack Kerouac. Anybody and anyone can submit an idea via this form. The ideas must:

  1.  Take place within or near Kerouac Park, Gold Star Park, or the paths or pathways nearby
  2. Be installation-based*
  3. Be expected to cost $500 or less and be able to be completed by May, 2022
  4. Enhance Kerouac Park or honor the spirit of Jack Kerouac

* Project proposals may have an event component but need to be primarily focused on an installation or permanent improvement

The ideas will be listed on the DIY Lowell website and shared via social media to encourage discussion! On April 16, DIY Lowell staff and the DIY Lowell Advisory Committee will choose "winning" idea(s) based on the following criteria:

  • Feasibility and fit within the above guidelines
  • Ability to engage diverse groups within Lowell
  • Impact and permanence
  • Connection to one or more of the themes of:
    •  Creativity
    • Prose and poetry
    • Kerouac's works or ideas
    • Kerouac's history in Lowell
  • Ability to enhance or coordinate with other efforts already underway in downtown

DIY Lowell will bring the winner(s) to life in a single project! If that project can be expanded beyond the initial sponsorship for DIY Kerouac, we may apply for assistance from the UMass Lowell Jack and Stella Kerouac Center for Public Humanities Request for Project Proposals, due April 20. Community members will be invited to be part of a DIY Lowell Project Team under the guidance of a facilitator that will help flesh out and implement the project. Got an idea? Use the form below!

Want some inspiration? Scroll below the form to see all the ideas we've received so far!

Mapping Kerouac

A series of maps with the trajectory of Kerouac on those places and with quotes from those places. Mexico City, Big Sur, Denver, San Francisco,NY, Lowell Desolation Peak…

Kerouac Corn Hole

Kerouac CornHole Game – Use concrete corn hole game board already installed in the park, temporarily paint or install portrait of Jack Kerouac’s face on surface, and create bean bags that are books, quotes, or Jack’s influences that can be tossed into his head

Kero-whack Drum Installation

Install some kid friendly outdoor percussion instruments (drums or chimes). Such as: https://strictlyforkidsstore.com/OutdoorInstruments. With or without snarky Kero-whack sign to encourage folks to play.

Kerouac Park Haikus

Jack wanted more people to express themselves, so my idea is for an installation that the public can use to create Kerouac-American-Haikus. It may be difficult to pull off, but what I’m imagining is similar to those installations which are common in playgrounds that have plastic letters you can spin to create simple three letter words. In this iteration however, there would be much more spinning letters – all 26 – (or more likely rearrangeable sliding letters that resemble a wooden sudoku board) so passerbys and rucksack revolutionaries with short poems in their heads can form them for others to enjoy. I suppose there are many ways an artist could bring this concept to life, and it is open to interpretation. “A sentence that’s short and sweet with a sudden jump of thought in it is a kind of haiku, and there’s a lot of freedom and fun in surprising yourself with that, let the mind willy-nilly jump from the branch to the bird.”

Little Free Library

To honor Jack Kerouac at 100, I propose to install a Little Free Library in or near Kerouac Park to allow Lowell residents to easily access and share books by and about Jack Kerouac as well as topics addressed in his works (travel, philosophy, race, religion, history, and of course Lowell itself). Residents would be free to influence the ongoing content of the library by adding books as well that they think their neighbors should read around these topics, so content would evolve as residents change it. The weatherproof finished “little library” sells from Little Free Library from between $300-$380, plus the cost of purchasing the initial books.

100 Buddhist Prayer Flags

100 Buddhist prayer flags with Kerouac quotes printed on them flying around the park.

Projections on Cityscape

When the Old Man in the Mountain in NH fell down, they installed a series of “profile poles” at the base so you can stand in footsteps and sight along and still experience the Old Man as being where he always was. My idea is to install a series of similar poles along the riverwalk on the north bank of the Merrimack River between Aiken St. and past Bridge St. to Duck Island, where walkers can stop and see projected on the city scape across the river, images or cutouts of famous Lowellians and visitors: Kerouac lifting a copy of his On the Road above his head, Henry David Thoreau and his brother in a canoe at the Merrimack and Concord River Confluence, etc., but also projections of the diverse community which is Lowell: for example, an image of the Angkor Dance Troupe (I see that on a mill rooftop!)

Blank Pad

A monument shaped like a “blank note pad” that allows the public to write their thoughts on the this note pad and every year on Jack’s anniversary, the pad is Re-painted as a new blank page for the public to re-visit.

Kerouac Park Jazz

A day of music, jazz,
Open pianos and open mics
Poets and priests alike
A reading of the golden eternity by Kerouac at the end by candlelight silence ,

Bilingual Kerouac

Kerouac was a bilingual author. In a city where the residents speak many languages, a project honoring Kerouac’s many “voices” seems appropriate. I would like to see a project that nurtures the next generation of Lowell’s writers and especially encourages young people who speak different languages in various parts of their lives.

Billboard Map and Temporary Trail

Pick historical Jack Kerouac locations throughout Lowell and put sidewalk stencils and temporary lightpost signage at each location. Make a billboard map installed at Kerouac Park with pamphlets people can take for a walking tour of all the locations.