The story of a Beat original

Once upon a time there was a poet named Bob Kaufman. He hadn’t spoken in anything resembling normal language in almost 12 years. Having taken a vow of silence as his own personal protest against American hyprocrisy and racial injustice, Bob Kaufman is probably the most important and unheralded of all the Beat generation literary luminaries. He was the true original. In the streets. On target. Under the radar. Yet at the forefront, breaking all the barriers. 

The poetry of freedom

One of the most alluring and enduring qualities of the art of poetry is the vast spectrum of forms it may take — neat or free-wheeling, broad or tidy, emotional or intellectual, progressive or traditional. 

This weekend, Jackson County aficionados can experience most all of that, in the same place, at the same time. 

Still jazzy after all these years

I first discovered Lawrence Ferlinghetti in high school and his book Starting From San Francisco and have read everything he’s ever published. I wrote my junior thesis paper for my English major in college on the light and dark imagery in his poetry. 

In his new book, Litte Boy, practically the whole narrative is concerned with light and dark imagery — in all their guises. Apparently he is still working all that out. I also had the good fortune to be his neighbor in the North Beach community of San Francisco in the 1970s and to spend valuable time with him, first as a member of my generational entourage, then as a friend and collaborator on protest and benefit events and publishing projects during that decade. So, I know Lawrence Ferlinghetti and much of his life story. And his memoiristic “novel” Little Boy, which was just published on his 100th birthday in March, is a stream of consciousness portrayal of those 100 years. 

University of the streets

At 69, Thomas Rain Crowe feels pretty good, considering.

“I’m not looking forward to 70, it’s kind of a psychological thing with a lot of people,” he chuckled. “But, I feel great, except for that my body is starting to do what it normally does as it gets older. Certain things start to go down, go out — I’m slowing down.” 

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