Literary Nonfiction. Poetry History & Criticism. Revised and Expanded Second Edition. Here is the definitive biography of American poet and artist Kenneth Patchen. Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) was a poet, novelist, artist, performer of poetry-jazz in the tradition of engaged writing which he helped forge in America. Producing a book a year during his writing life, his work and life stand as a huge exposed girder in the structure of American culture and art. His friendships with such writers as James Laughlin, Henry Miller, E. E. Cummings, Muriel Rukeyser, Amos Wilder, Dylan Thomas, Lewis Mumford, Kenneth Rexroth, David Dellinger, Jonathan Williams, and Lawrence Ferlinghetti 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 the Leftist thinkers and artists of 1930s and 1940s Greenwich Village, then moved on to the West Coast where he created dynamic blends of poetry and art, poetry and jazz, poetry and theater. Finally crippled with back pain during the last decades of his life, he created the famed picture poems of his Wonder Period.
For four decades on East and West Coasts, by the force of his will and native genius, Patchen molded life and art as one. With the loving support of wife Miriam, he endured the pain and travail of years of struggle to recast an art based on truth and striking beauty. The tale of Kenneth and Miriam Patchen has become one of the great lover stories of American literature. His is the story of the rebel artist in America.
"In my eyes Kenneth Patchen is now and will remain one of the outstanding figures in American letters. He represents all that a poet should represent, whether expressing himself in verse, in prose, in paint, or in action. By his example he has given courage, direction, and inspiration to more poets than anyone I know of on this continent Patchen stands out like a shining warrior, a herald of peace and truth, endowed with invincible heart and integrity. No one can read him without being affected—and influenced in his own life and work. It is not only the youth who are indebted to him but all of us, unto the last and most fanatically ardent defender of the Word."—Henry Miller
Author City: HURON, OH USA
Larry Smith is a native of Mingo Junction, Ohio, in Appalachia's Panhandle region of the Ohio River Valley. A graduate of Mingo Central High School, Muskingum College, and Kent State University, he has authored seven books of poetry, a book of memoirs, three books of fiction, two biographies of authors Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Kenneth Patchen, and two books of translations from the Chinese. Now a professor emeritus of Bowling Green State University's Firelands College, he is the director of The Firelands Writing Center there and of Bottom Dog Press. Smith has received an Individual Artist Fellowship from the Ohio Arts Council, and a Fulbright Lectureship in American Literature to Italy. He and his wife Ann are the parents of three adult children, and live along the shores of Lake Erie in Huron, Ohio.