midwest until Delia died in 1916 and Charles in 1919. For the next three years, Rexroth
of a brothel.
During the 1920s, Rexroth backpacked across the country several times, visited Paris
was cubist and surrealist–often opaquely so. In 1927 he married Andr?e Schafer, an
epileptic painter, and they moved to San Francisco. In the late 1920s Rexroth’s first
poems appeared in Pagany, Morada, and Charles Henri Ford’s Blues. He
Called Damascus, published by New Directions in 1963. He also participated in the
Communist party’s John Reed Clubs, organizations supporting working-class writers and
on the West Coast until 1938. He corresponded with other leftist poets, such as Louis
impressionism. In the mid-1930s, Rexroth participated in the Federal Arts Projects. In
Review, New Republic, and Art Front. A long-standing association began
in 1937 when Rexroth’s poetry appeared in the second volume of James Laughlin’s New
blamed on the literary establishment of the urban East Coast. After Andr?e died in 1940,
conscientious objector and served as a psychiatric orderly. Objecting to war measures, he
Buddhism, Taoism, and yoga.
earthy Jeremiad was central to Rexroth’s postwar aesthetic. He took the social role of the
cried, ‘Woe, woe to the bloody city of damnation!’ and nobody listened to the few who cry
1940s Rexroth established a Friday-evening salon and a Wednesday-night philosophy club to
discuss his theories of politics and poetry; in attendance were friends such as Robert
Duncan, William Everson, Richard Eberhart, Philip Lamantia and, later, Allen Ginsberg,
Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, and other Beats.
Beats, partly through a weekly radio show. He also became the biological father of two
probably his most well-known poem, "Thou Shalt Not Kill," in honor of Dylan
world. This piece became a standard in Rexroth’s repertoire when, with the Beats, he began
to read poetry with musical accompaniment. Actress Shirley MacLaine attended a
poetry-and-jazz performance in the late 1950s and concluded that Rexroth resembled
"John Donne in the fourth dimension."
After Kass divorced him in 1955 Rexroth legally married Larsen in 1958 (they had been
illegally married in France in 1949); they divorced in 1961. His live-in secretary, Carol
struggles and the anti-war movement. His Collected Shorter Poems appeared in 1967
Institute of Arts and Letters award in 1964. This later work was dominated by Eastern
California, Santa Barbara (1968-1974). Partly on the strength of his translations of Asian
achievement. His last major project was a series of poems presented as translations of a
fictional Japanese poet named Marichiko. In later years Rexroth maintained friendships
with younger writers, such as his literary executor Bradford Morrow, and feminist poets
Although some feminists have objected to his philandering and dated representations of
writers. His contributions energized postwar American poetry.
University of Southern California. Rexroth’s collections of poetry also include The
Signature of All Things (1949), In Defense of the Earth (1956), Natural
Numbers (1963), Elastic Retort (1973), New Poems (1974), and Flower
Wreath Hill (1991). His translations include 100 Poems from the Chinese (1956),
100 Poems from the Japanese (1964), Pierre Reverdy, Selected Poems (1969), Love
and the Turning Year (1970), Orchid Boat (1972), 100 Poems from the French
(1972), and 100 More Poems from the Japanese (1976). His play Beyond the
Mountains was published in 1951. His essays include Bird in the Bush (1959), Assays
Eye and Ear (1970), American Poetry in the Twentieth Century (1971), Communalism
published in 1966. Lee Bartlett, ed., Kenneth Rexroth and James Laughlin: Selected
Letters, appeared in 1991. See Bradford Morrow, "An Outline of Unpublished
Rexroth Manuscripts, and an Introductory Note to Three Chapters from the Sequel to An
Autobiographical Novel," Sagetrieb 2, no. 3 (Winter 1983): 135-44.
The major biography is Linda Hamalian’s A Life of Kenneth Rexroth (1991).
Critical studies include Morgan Gibson, Kenneth Rexroth (1972), Gibson, Revolutionary
Rexroth: Poet of East-West Wisdom (1986), and Ken Knabb, Relevance of Rexroth
death; see "Remembering Kenneth Rexroth," American Poetry Review 12, no.
1 (1983): 18-19.
Copyright (c) 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University
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