Kenneth Patchen - Life Stories, Books, and Links
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Picture of artwork by poet Kenneth Patchen; twentieth century American Literature and poetry
Illustration by Kenneth Patchen   (source)
Kenneth Patchen   (1911 - 1972)
Category:  American Literature
Born:  December 13, 1911
Niles, Ohio, United States
Died:  January 8, 1972
Palo Alto, California, United States
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Kenneth Patchen - LIFE STORIES
12/13/1911     Rocking the Boat in Love and Anger
On this day in 1911, poet, novelist, and artist Kenneth Patchen was born in Niles, Ohio. Henry Miller called him "The Man of Anger and Light" for his lifelong protest and compassion; others praise his jazz-poetry and picture-poems, which also could warm or chill: ". . . I smell heartbreak up there, Jack, a heartbreak at the center of things, and in which we don't figure at all."
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The Collected Poems of Kenneth Patchen
anthology, poetry
What Shall We Do Without Us?: The Voice and Vision of Kenneth Patchen
by Kenneth Patchen, James Laughlin (Contributor)
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Beneath the Underdog: His World As Composed by Mingus
by Charles Mingus, Nel King (Editor), Erroll McDonald (Editor)
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Academy of American Poets
Find a biography, text to the poem "The Orange Bears," bibliography, and links.

"For more than thirty years, Patchen lived with a severe spinal ailment that caused him almost constant physical pain. The weight of this personal battle was compounded by his sensitivity to greater issues of humanity, and his poetry paid special attention to the horrors of war. With his work he tried to create a kind of sanctuary for the reader, apart from reality, where larger-than-life characters were motivated by their loving and benevolent natures."
Essay: "Naturalist of the Public Nightmare"
Kenneth Rexroth examines and When We Were Here Together, and concludes that Patchen is the only living American poet (in 1957) who had not "abandoned the international idiom of twentieth-century verse."

"The common man dreams of security. Every day life grows more insecure, and, outside America, more nasty, brutish, and short. The lights that went out over Europe were never relit. Now the darkness is absolute. In the blackness, well-fed, cultured, carefully shaven gentlemen sit before microphones at mahogany tables and push the planet inch by inch towards extinction. We have come to the generation of revolutionary hopelessness. Men throw themselves under the wheels of the monsters, Russia and America, out of despair, for identical reasons. With almost no exceptions, the silentiaries of American literature pretend that such a state of affairs does not exist. In fact, most of them do not need to pretend. They have ceased to be able to tell good from evil. One of the few exceptions is Kenneth Patchen. His voice is the voice of a conscience which is forgotten. He speaks from the moral viewpoint of the new century, the century of assured hope, before the dawn of the world-in-concentration-camp. But he speaks of the world as it is."
Essay: "Patchen: Man of Anger & Light"
Find a biography written by Henry Miller examines the dramatic duality in Patchen's personality, Patchen's shyness and "awesome silence," and the mixture of such themes as hope and despair, love and resignation, and courage and futility which embodies the writer's works.

"Tender and ruthless at the same time, he has the faculty of estranging the very ones who wish to help him. He is inexorable: he has no manners, no tact, no grace. He gives no quarter. Like the gangster, he follows a code of his own. He gives you the chance to put up your hands before shooting you down. Most people however, are too terrified to throw up their hands. They get mowed down. This is the monstrous side of him, which makes him appear ruthless and rapacious. Within the snorting dragon, however, there is a gentle prince who suffers at the mention of the slightest cruelty or injustice. A tender soul, who soon learned to envelope himself in a mantle of brim-fire in order to protect his sensitive skin. No American poet is as merciless in his invective as Patchen. There is almost an insanity to his fury and rebellion."
Kenneth Patchen Home Page
Find a chronological timeline of events in the author's life, bibliography of works by and about the writer, and selected fragments and images. With links to online resources.
The Beat Page
Find poems including "Let Us Have Madness," "The Hangman's Great Hands," "As Frothing Wounds of Roses," and "For Miriam."
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February 19, 2018
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