Publication Date: July 2008
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The singular work of Kenneth Patchen has influenced poets, artists and political activists for decades. New Directions is proud to launch a Patchen revival beginning with omnibus editions of his unique compositions. We Meet highlights Patchen's more outlandish side and includes, like fabrics stitched into a crazy quilt, Because It Is, A Letter to God, Poemscapes, Hurrah For Anything, and Aflame & Afun of Walking Faces. "Because to understand one must begin somewhere," opens Patchen's fabulous book of poems Because It Is perhaps the most ideal reason for such a melting pot of poetry. Open any page at random and find Patchen protesting the Second World War (A Letter to God), or telling the tale of how hot water first came to be tracked onto bedroom floors (Aflame and Afun of Walking Faces), or informing the reader what happened when the nervous vine wouldn't twine (Because It Is), or why he loathes those who act as if a cherry were something they personally thought up (Hurrah For Anything), or answering what he wants out of life: "let's say no matter" (Poemscapes).
About the Author
Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) was a poet, playwright, fiction and fablewriter, artist, and performer of poetry-jazz, working in the traditionof engaged writing which he helped to forge in America. Producingalmost a book a year for 36 years, his work stands as an exposed girderin the structure of American character and art. His friendships withsuch writers as Amos Wilder, Lewis Mumford, James Laughlin, HenryMiller, Kenneth Rexroth, Dylan Thomas, Lawrence Ferlinghetti andothers place him at the center of dissident writing in America. Risingfrom his native grounds in working-class Ohio, he became a leadingfigure among Leftist thinkers and artists in Greenwich Village's 1930sand 40s. In the 1950s he moved to the West Coast where he createdartistic blends of poetry and art, and poetry and jazz. Finally crippledwith back pain during the last decade of his life, he created thewonderful picture-poems. For four decades, on East and West Coast, by the force of his own will and his native genius, Patchen molded alife and art as one. With the loving support of his wife Miriam heendured the pain and travail of years of struggle to recast an art basedon truth and striking beauty. His is one of the great stories of Americanliterature.