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Collected Poems (New Directions Books) Paperback – January 17, 1968
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From the Back Cover
About the Author
writer, artist, and performer of poetry-jazz, working in the tradition
of engaged writing which he helped to forge in America. Producing
almost a book a year for 36 years, his work stands as an exposed girder
in the structure of American character and art. His friendships with
such writers as Amos Wilder, Lewis Mumford, James Laughlin, Henry
Miller, Kenneth Rexroth, Dylan Thomas, Lawrence Ferlinghetti and
others place him at the center of dissident writing in America. Rising
from his native grounds in working-class Ohio, he became a leading
figure among Leftist thinkers and artists in Greenwich Village's 1930s
and 40s. In the 1950s he moved to the West Coast where he created
artistic blends of poetry and art, and poetry and jazz. Finally crippled
with back pain during the last decade of his life, he created the
wonderful picture-poems. For four decades, on East and West Coast,
by the force of his own will and his native genius, Patchen molded a
life and art as one. With the loving support of his wife Miriam he
endured the pain and travail of years of struggle to recast an art based
on truth and striking beauty. His is one of the great stories of American
Top Customer Reviews
I don't know if was influential; he certainly didn't care. His public, his peers sought him; never the other way around. I read once that he wrote "naked poetry." The following poem is an excellent example of his wondrous way with words, the beauty, the anger and the savagery all in a few short stanzas.
The dove walks with sticky feet
Upon the green crowns of the almond tree,
Its feathers smeared over with warmth
That drips lazily down into the shadow...
Anyone standing in that orchard,
So filled with peace and sleep,
Would hardly have noticed the hill
With its three strange wooden arms
Lifted above a throng of motionless people
---Above the helmets of Pilate's soldiers
Flashing like silver teeth in the sun.
Having said that, I must confess that Patchen was a poet who always wrote to the beat of his own drum. He rarely used traditional form or meter, yet in steering away from traditional schemes, he managed to create his own rhyme and forms in brilliant wordplay that have since been copied by never replicated. Plus, the raw, honest emotion (often rage) and powerful, offbeat images that Patchen constantly creates only get better with each read. It is difficult for me to describe the man's work except for the title I have given this review. Do not expect traditional poetry in any shape of the imagination. But do expect beauty and honesty in all the themes that Patchen explores, whether he is describing life for all of its beauty, darkness, or sadness.
In other reviews I have written for this site, I have felt the need to expand into lengthy prose in order to promote to work I was writing about.Read more ›
Most Recent Customer Reviews
I ordered this book in hopes of reading a great artist's work instead I got a book that came in pieces. Torn in half. Badly damaged. Read morePublished on October 5, 2012 by Paul Via Franco
The poet Kenneth Patchen is a fascinating figure. He was a conscientious objector in World War II, the "good war" even many pacifists would refuse to have stayed out of. Read morePublished on December 1, 2006 by Christopher Culver