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Lifestory of Poet Kenneth Rexroth

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    ’ s Life Essay, Research Paper

    Caren Irr

    Rexroth, Kenneth

    ( 22 Dec. 1905- 6 June 1982 ) , poet and transcriber, was born Kenneth Charles Marion Rexroth

    in South Bend, Indiana, the boy of Charles Rexroth, a pharmaceuticals salesman, and Delia

    Reed. Owing to Charles ’ s bouldery calling, the household moved often throughout the northern

    midwest until Delia died in 1916 and Charles in 1919. For the following three old ages, Rexroth

    lived with an aunt in Chicago. After his ejection from high school, he educated himself

    in literary salons, cabarets, talk halls, and tramp cantonments while working as a grappler,

    sodium carbonate dork, clerk, and newsman. In 1923-1924 he served a prison term for partial ownership

    of a whorehouse.

    During the 1920s, Rexroth backpacked across the state several times, visited Paris

    and New York, taught in a spiritual school, and spent two months in a Hudson Valley

    monastery. Contemplations on these experiences appear in his ulterior poesy, but his early work

    was cubist and surrealist – frequently opaquely so. In 1927 he married Andr? vitamin E Schafer, an

    epileptic painter, and they moved to San Francisco. In the late 1920s Rexroth ’ s foremost

    verse forms appeared in Pagany, Morada, and Charles Henri Ford ’ s Blues. He

    read much of Alfred North Whitehead ’ s doctrine around this clip.

    During the 1930s, Rexroth studied mysticism and Communism. Readings of Jacob Boehme,

    St. Thomas Aquinas, and John Duns Scotus influenced alterations to his long verse form, Homestead

    Called Damascus, published by New Directions in 1963. He besides participated in the

    Communist party ’ s John Reed Clubs, organisations back uping working-class authors and

    creative persons. Although disbelieving about internal party political relations, Rexroth helped form nines

    on the West Coast until 1938. He corresponded with other left-of-center poets, such as Louis

    Zukofsky and George Oppen, who wanted to salvage poesy from mawkishness and

    Impressionism. In the mid-1930s, Rexroth participated in the Federal Arts Projects. In

    1936 he spoke at the Western Writers Conference and was published in New Masses, Partisan

    Review, New Republic, and Art Front. A long-standing association began

    in 1937 when Rexroth ’ s poesy appeared in the 2nd volume of James Laughlin ’ s New

    Directions in Poetry and Prose. Rexroth would be a womb-to-tomb friend, guru, and skiing

    comrade to this influential publishing house.

    In 1938 Rexroth shifted his political attending to an ecologically based pacificism. His

    first volume of poesy, In What Hour ( 1940 ) , was lukewarmly received – a response he

    blamed on the literary constitution of the urban East Coast. After Andr? vitamin E died in 1940,

    he married Marie Kass, a public wellness nurse who shared his passions for political relations and

    bivouacing. When the United States entered World War II, Rexroth registered as a

    painstaking dissenter and served as a psychiatric orderly. Objecting to war steps, he

    helped a figure of Nipponese Americans evade internment. During this period, he practiced

    Buddhism, Taoism, and yoga.

    In 1944 his aggregation The Phoenix and the Tortoise appeared. The rubric verse form is

    a long philosophical narration interspersed with concrete animal images. This sort of

    crude Jeremiad was cardinal to Rexroth ’ s postwar aesthetic. He took the societal function of the

    poet rather earnestly, composing in a 1958 reappraisal of Kenneth Patchen ’ s work, “ If no 1

    cried, ‘ Woe, suffering to the bloody metropolis of damnation! ’ and cipher listened to the few who cry

    out, we would cognize that the human race had eventually gone hopelessly and everlastingly huffy ” ( Kenneth

    Patchen: A Collection of Essays, erectile dysfunction. Richard G. Morgan [ 1977 ] , p. 23 ) . In the late

    1940s Rexroth established a Friday-evening salon and a Wednesday-night doctrine nine to

    discourse his theories of political relations and poesy ; in attending were friends such as Robert

    Duncan, William Everson, Richard Eberhart, Philip Lamantia and, subsequently, Allen Ginsberg,

    Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Gary Snyder, and other Beats.

    After having a Guggenheim family in 1948, Rexroth traveled across Europe and the

    United States, doing sociological observations that resurfaced in The Dragon and the

    Unicorn ( 1952 ) . During the 1950s Rexroth continued to function as father figure to the

    Beat generations, partially through a hebdomadal wireless show. He besides became the biological male parent of two

    girls ; their female parent was doctrine stude

    nt Marthe Larsen. In 1953 he wrote what is

    likely his most well-known verse form, “ Thou Shalt Not Kill, ” in award of Dylan

    Thomas. A passionate indictment of standardised civilization, the verse form asks who is responsible

    for Thomas ’ s decease ; its reply implicates the cocktails and Brooks Brothers suits of this

    universe. This piece became a criterion in Rexroth ’ s repertory when, with the Beats, he began

    to read poesy with musical concomitant. Actress Shirley MacLaine attended a

    poetry-and-jazz public presentation in the late fiftiess and concluded that Rexroth resembled

    “ John Donne in the 4th dimension. ”

    After Kass divorced him in 1955 Rexroth lawfully married Larsen in 1958 ( they had been

    illicitly married in France in 1949 ) ; they divorced in 1961. His live-in secretary, Carol

    Tinker, became his 4th married woman in 1974. In the 1960s Rexroth supported civil rights

    battles and the anti-war motion. His Collected Shorter Poems appeared in 1967

    and Complete Collected Longer Poems in 1968. Increasingly recognized by mainstream

    critics, he wrote a series of essays for Saturday Review and received a National

    Institute of Arts and Letters award in 1964. This ulterior work was dominated by Eastern

    doctrine – a subject that appealed to the pupils he taught at the University of

    California, Santa Barbara ( 1968-1974 ) . Partially on the strength of his interlingual renditions of Asiatic

    poets, Rexroth won a Fulbright to Japan ( 1974-1975 ) and a Copernicus Award for life-time

    accomplishment. His last major undertaking was a series of verse forms presented as interlingual renditions of a

    fictional Nipponese poet named Marichiko. In ulterior old ages Rexroth maintained friendly relationships

    with younger authors, such as his literary executor Bradford Morrow, and feminist poets

    such as Carolyn Forch? and Denise Levertov. Rexroth died in Santa Barbara, and,

    characteristically, Catholic eulogies, Buddhist chants, and Beat verse forms were performed at

    his funeral.

    Kenneth Rexroth ’ s typical poetic voice emphasized gender, ecology, and mysticism

    and provided an aesthetic option to societal pragmatism and New Critical formalism.

    Although some women’s rightists have objected to his philandering and dated representations of

    adult females, as a author and editor, Rexroth liberally promoted both male and female group

    authors. His parts energized postwar American poesy.


    Rexroth ’ s documents are located at the University of California, Los Angeles and the

    University of Southern California. Rexroth ’ s aggregations of poesy besides 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 interlingual renditions 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 Gallic

    ( 1972 ) , and 100 More Poems from the Japanese ( 1976 ) . His drama Beyond the

    Mountains was published in 1951. His essays include Bird in the Bush ( 1959 ) , Assays

    ( 1961 ) , Classics Revisited ( 1968 ) , The Alternative Society ( 1970 ) , With

    Eye and Ear ( 1970 ) , American Poetry in the Twentieth Century ( 1971 ) , Communalism

    ( 1974 ) , and More Classicss Revisited ( 1984 ) . An Autobiographical Novel was

    published in 1966. Lee Bartlett, ed. , Kenneth Rexroth and James Laughlin: Selected

    Letterss, 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 life is Linda Hamalian ’ s A Life of Kenneth Rexroth ( 1991 ) .

    Critical surveies include Morgan Gibson, Kenneth Rexroth ( 1972 ) , Gibson, Revolutionary

    Rexroth: Poet of East-West Wisdom ( 1986 ) , and Ken Knabb, Relevance of Rexroth

    ( 1990 ) . James Laughlin and Denise Levertov wrote a traveling testimonial to Rexroth after his

    decease ; see “ Remembering Kenneth Rexroth, ” American Poetry Review 12, no.

    1 ( 1983 ) : 18-19.

    Beginning: hypertext transfer protocol: // ;

    American National Biography Online Feb. 2000. Access Date: Sun Mar 18 12:29:57 2001

    Copyright ( degree Celsius ) 2000 American Council of Learned Societies. Published by Oxford University

    Press. All rights reserved.

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