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The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen (Wesleyan Poetry Series) Hardcover – December 28, 2007

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Editorial Reviews

From Publishers Weekly

A friend and inspiration to Allen Ginsberg and Gary Snyder, the Oregon-born California Beat poet Whalen (1923–2002) also played a serious role in the history of American Buddhism, traveling to Japan, then becoming a Zen monk in 1974. Whalen's copious pre-1967 writings make up the bulk of this volume: often they reflect a first-thought best-thought aesthetic, with scenes from West Coast nature and San Francisco bohemia, ecstatic and disillusioned jottings and quips about love, sex, drugs, literature and America, along with holographs and drawings. The work Whalen did in Japan tells a different story. The last and best of his long sequences, the 60-page Scenes from the Capital (1969), combines a Ginsberg-like flow with more considered reflections on travel, alienation and the poet's own mind: If you want something hold out an empty hand, Whalen advises; If you want a poem find a blank page. His move into more dedicated Zen practice slowed downhis verse: How to explain that everything is unimaginably splendid/ And horrible? an ode from 1979 inquires. Beat compleatists, seekers of Buddhist poetry and anyone else drawn to the history of countercultural writing should find much in this big book to like, though its sheer bulk (and price) may be a deterrent.(Nov.)
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Review

“Rothenberg has done an exemplary job with The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen…. He includes a short biography of the poet, as well as an extensive bibliography, various of Whalen’s own prefaces, (Gary) Snyder’s astute and heartfelt foreword and a thoughtful essay by poet Leslie Scalapino. He’s even reproduced the tables of contents of Whalen’s original collections."―Lewis MacAdams, Los Angeles Times

“This is a beautiful book.”―Jordan Davis, The Nation

“Presenting some of the most significant poetry of the postwar era, The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen should boost Whalen’s cultural status to the level of recognition he deserves, for it reveals an acute introspective power unequaled in the writing of the period.”―Dale Smith, Rain Taxi

“Philip Whalen is a great American poet. Some--too few--readers have known this since the mid 1950s, when his poems first appeared in little magazines and small-press books. In publishing The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen, Wesleyan gives the world at large this incomparable poet, and major literary event. …(Y)ou will enjoy Whalen’s poems, and you may come to love them.”―William Corbett, The Boston Phoenix
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Product Details

  • Series: Wesleyan Poetry Series
  • Hardcover: 932 pages
  • Publisher: Wesleyan; First Edition / First Printing edition (December 28, 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0819568597
  • ISBN-13: 978-0819568595
  • Product Dimensions: 2.2 x 6.2 x 9.2 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 2.8 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 5.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (2 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #833,708 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Most Helpful Customer Reviews

14 of 14 people found the following review helpful By Arch Llewellyn on February 17, 2008
Format: Hardcover
This remarkable collection gathers the full range of work from one of the 20th century's most unpretentious experimenters with the form and matter of poetry. Granted, 800 pages is a lot of anyone, even a poet as great and under-read as Whalen, and the gain in information comes with a corresponding loss in shape. Whalen's refusal to separate writing from the business-as-usual work of living gives his poems their special tension--the "nerve movie" that's at once transcription of mind moving and competitive bid to be Art--but also invites sameness and slack, a problem more apparent here than in previous collections, especially On Bear's Head, where the batting average dazzles. Reference-wise though, having this book is like owning a wing of the Beat Louvre, and I wouldn't trade it for all of Mexico City and its blues.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful By B.A. Crumm on October 2, 2013
Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
I highly recommend this collection of Whalen's.
Comprehensive.
Including illustrations/calligraphy poems.

Whalen had quite a sense of humor ;) beautiful work and a beautiful edition.
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