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Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel Hardcover – April 10, 2012

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Editorial Reviews


"The daringly sexual poetry of Lenore Kandel, author of The Love Book, has long been overshadowed by the work of men for whom she served as a muse: Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Snyder among them. This volume brings together 150 plus works by the late poet, many of them never before published."
Publishers Weekly

"Lenore Kandel was explosive — she was the only woman to give a speech at the 1967 Human Be-In, became immortalized by Jack Kerouac in Big Sur, and just like her buddy Allen Ginsberg, had a pamphlet of her work seized by police because of its extreme erotic content. Kandel was an important female voice in the predominantly male Beat movement and an activist during the counterculture San Francisco of the 1960s… a tribute to Kandel’s life is celebrated with a new release, Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel. The book features previously unpublished poetry as well as some of Kandel’s more iconic works, such as 'To Fuck with Love,' a descriptive and provocative take on a woman’s sexual experience and desire."
SF Weekly

"There were two wake-robins: Diane Wakoski and Lenore Kandel; the latter wailed out sex-challenge poems larger and louder than the men, who were still into cool."
—Maxine Hong Kingston, from Tripmaster Monkey

"After a flurry of publicity when The Love Book was declared obscene, Lenore Kandel sunk back beneath the frothy surface of public attention. She lay there on the streambed, a gold nugget gleaming in the shadows, for the diligent to find. Her modesty was immense, and her reticence to grandstand consigned her unfairly to the shadows. Now she is ‘drifting down the wind as light,' and we are all illuminated by her."
—Peter Coyote, actor and author of Sleeping Where I Fall

"With her fresh, fleshly outspokenness and clear-speaking sensuousness, Lenore Kandel writes directly to us. She makes the shapes, the graces, the tastes, the fears, of her moment—and as ever, they are ours. She is here."
—Michael McClure, poet and author of Scratching the Beat Surface

"There is a tradition in poetry—one that stretches back to its beginnings—that conflates sensuality, ecstasy, and the divine. Lenore carried this tradition for my generation and expounded it with a startling immediacy. She never spends an instant telling you how to get there; she takes you there, and shakes you until you experience the condition she describes."
—Freeman House, author of Totem Salmon

"The publication of The Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel, published by North Atlantic Books, is a major milestone in the history of Beat and I'm here to report, after finishing the volume, that it is everything an enthusiastic reader might anticipate and much, much more."
Lilliput Review

"When you think of subversive 1960s beat poets, Allen Ginsberg and Jack Kerouac likely spring to mind first. But controversial poet Lenore Kandel, known for her sex positivity and the obscenity charges brought against her for her erotic works, was a pivotal female face of the movement. In 1967, a jury deemed Kandel’s short pamphlet The Love Book, which contained four of her poems, obscene. (Specifically under fire: the provocative work “To F*** with Love.”) Now, a new book, Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel, showcases more than 150 of the late artist’s pieces — some controversial, all beautiful. Here’s to you, Lenore: Thank you for speaking for for women way back when."
She Knows

"Kandel’s poetry takes the form of an underground history lesson for the sheltered, showing the passion force of life questioningly. These exuberant poems can seem retrogressive, since Kandel’s witnessing was so extremely present and precise, and times have changed, and all the more remarkable for the presence and precision of their witnessing. North Atlantic Books has done a great service for posterity by publishing this collection."

"Daring to break cultural norms with her work, Lenore Kandel has become quite the legend in the poetry world. Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel is a poetry collection compiling the best of the late poet's work as she attacked the ideals of her era and continued pushing her original style all throughout her life. Collected Poems of Lenore Kandel is an ideal addition to any literary poetry collection, highly recommended."
Midwest Book Review

"If you like Allen Ginsberg, you will like Lenore Kandel. If poems of hers like 'Now Vision' and 'First They Slaughtered the Angels' were mistakenly printed in Ginsberg’s Collected instead of Kandel’s, I don’t think anyone would look twice. Kandel’s is a poetry that does not champion compression, does not care about that mountain of ice under the tip of the iceberg, does not suggest or imply or gesture toward. Kandel is a pure excessivist. Her poetry is about total inclusion, utter exposure, the fullest frontal view of a thing. It can’t be put more clearly than Kandel herself puts it in her Intro: 'To compromise poetry through expediency is the soft, small murder to the soul.'"

About the Author

Lenore Kandel (1932–2009) was born in New York City and wrote poetry from childhood. The author of The Love Book (1966) and Word Alchemy (1967), she died at the age of 77.

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 264 pages
  • Publisher: North Atlantic Books (April 10, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1583943722
  • ISBN-13: 978-1583943724
  • Product Dimensions: 6.2 x 1 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1 pounds (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (5 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,233,826 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Top Customer Reviews

By David Gitin on August 19, 2012
Format: Hardcover
Lenore Kandel's moment of fame (notoriety rather) was her first book, "The Love Book," judged obscene and her books confiscated from San Francisco bookstores in late 1966. It was a small book of erotic song, pages 3-8 of the Collected. I remember giving poetry readings with her at this time and arranging her reading at Poets Theater (which I cofounded with the late Jim Wilson) at the Straight Theater on Haight Street. Her second book, "Love's Alchemy," presented a wider scope of Lenore's interests and further showed her lyrical visionary uncompromising work. Here are some lines from Invocation for Maitreya: "to invoke the divinity in man with the mutual gift of love/wtih love as animate and bright as death/the alchemical transfiguration of two separate entities/into one efflorescent deity made manifest in radiant human flesh/our bodies whirling through the cosmos, the kiss of heartbeats..." The real treat in this book, thanks to Vicki Pollack and Lisa Kot for collecting them, is at least half the poems are published for the first time in a book! Here is one called A Place To Stand: "Air itself is light/sweet morning in a bridal veil/all possibility inherent/in each breath...I cast my mind out to the vast beyond/as it were a lariat/or else a fishing line/I troll for enlightenment, for epiphany/I troll for grace/for a warm touch/among the chiming stars." Kudos to North Atlantic Books for publishing this collection!
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Format: Hardcover
How is it that the story of Lenore Kandel is not more widely known? Around the same time as the historic and well-chronicled Ginsberg trials, one of his fellow writers (and a good friend to Ginsberg, Kerouac, and others), and one of the few noted female Beat poets, was also on trial for her writing. Lenore Kandel's book of erotic poems, The Love Book, was seized at City Lights bookstore in North Beach and a psychedelic/head shop on Haight Street for violating obscenity laws, and banned in San Francisco. Of course, there's nothing like a good ban to make sales flourish, and The Love Book was no exception, as an 8-year-long court battle raged on to get the ban lifted. Beyond being a hero to writers and free speech, Lenore Kandel should be remembered as a feminist icon of the 60's, during a time when women rarely got the same credit for their stellar contributions to writing and literature as the men did. Lenore Kandel was no muse; she was a dedicated poet with a lyrical, yet honest approach to the world, and it's great to see a book that truly captures her life-long dedication to her craft.
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Format: Hardcover
Lenore Kandel appeared in Kerouac's Big Sur as Romana Swartz, she slept with either Lew Welch or Gary Snyder or Jack Kerouac depending on who you ask (or maybe all three), and she was the only woman to read at the Human Be-In Gathering of the Tribes in 1967.

But let's skip past all that name-dropping gossip and get to the important stuff: she was a damn good poet.

The Collected Poems includes her two published books, Word Alchemy and The Love Book, along with earlier chapbooks, poems only published in little magazines, and unpublished poems. There's about *150 pages* of poems that weren't previously collected in a book (or at least not easy for the average reader to obtain). This is a godsend for fans of her work.

Word Alchemy, her only full-length book, ranks high among works by the lesser-known beat poets. Unlike many poets, though, she seems like someone you'd like to hang out with.

Seized for violating state pornography charges, The Love Book explicitly heralded divine loving sex. She was a student of buddhism, and she embraced the "divine animal." There are a few other poems on the same topic, especially "Love-Lust Poem" and "seven of velvet".

A few of the poems, such as "Junk/Angel" and "Blues for Sister Sally" (which have been anthologized), are more typical beat poems about junkies. (Not to say that they aren't solid poems.)

Most of the poems, though, are hard to categorize. You might called them visionary, enlightened, beautiful. "In Transit," in particular, is one of the most enlightened Buddhist poems I've ever read.
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Format: Hardcover
This author was a major poet, and a largely neglected one after the motorcycle accident that left her permanently disabled, so it's good that her poems are finally available. Unfortunately, this book doesn't do her justice. Dianne di Prima's Preface is disappointing, a jocund "hippy memoir" that says little about Kandel's life and work. And the poems are arranged in a chaotic way that also gives little idea of her life's trajectory, which raises BIG questions about the counterculture's relation to society at large. American Dreams is a great poem about the motorcycle outlaw as the secret hero of the American psyche, but it was Kandel's association with the Hell's Angels that-- accidentally-- left her disabled. It's hard to tell from this book where the poem fits into her life since no date for it is given-- it was previously unpublished. There are a lot of unanswered questions here.
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