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A Life of Kenneth Rexroth

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“Linda Hamalian is to be saluted for the sheer amount of detection and unraveling she has brought to her life of Kenneth Rexroth. It’s the kind of information everyone seems to take for granted, but which would still be covered by the desert sands of time except for the biographer’s herculean labors.” —Washington Post Book World
A poet and activist, Kenneth Rexroth is a central figure in the San Francisco literary renaissance. But his nature and love poetry have left their mark on several generations of modern ...

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Overview

“Linda Hamalian is to be saluted for the sheer amount of detection and unraveling she has brought to her life of Kenneth Rexroth. It’s the kind of information everyone seems to take for granted, but which would still be covered by the desert sands of time except for the biographer’s herculean labors.” —Washington Post Book World
A poet and activist, Kenneth Rexroth is a central figure in the San Francisco literary renaissance. But his nature and love poetry have left their mark on several generations of modern poets, from Beats to Denise Levertov, Carolyn Forché, and Jessica Hagedorn. A complex person, Rexroth was a self-taught man of great knowledge, a consummate storyteller, a man who could be thoroughly charming one day and who could take your head off the next. In the definitive and only biography, Linda Hamalian explores Rexroth’s life and work in all their depth.

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Editorial Reviews

Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
Poet-essayist Rexroth (1905-1982)--high-school dropout, disillusioned ex-Communist, pacifist, anarchist, bigamist, rock-climber, critic and translator, the presiding spirit of San Francisco's Beat scene--is captured in all his flaws and greatness in this definitive, moving biography. Although he believed marriage was a sacrament and wrote exquisitely tender love poems to his wives, Rexroth had many affairs during his four marriages and subjected his wives to constant directives, jealous rages, verbal and intermittent physical abuse. Hamalian, professor of English at William Paterson College in New Jersey, portrays the poet as a spiritual seeker who explored monasticism, Eastern philosophy and communion with nature, a man who was wise in spite of himself and a writer who struggled to unite art and politics in a ``poetry of responsibility'' that would enlarge human experience. Photos not seen by PW . (Mar.)
Library Journal
In this first full-length biography, richly detailed and thoroughly documented, the self-taught Rexroth emerges as a major American poet. Rexroth, a prominent figure in San Francisco's literary renaissance, was also a jazz-poet performer, translator, mentor, critic, leftist commentator, pacifist, Catholic-Buddhist spiritualist, world traveler, wit, and iconoclast. Hamalian depicts the virtues and flaws of this fascinating man with cool, even-handed balance. Married four times, and father to two daughters, he yearned to understand and fulfill the lives of the women close to him. Longing for stable relationships, he sometimes abused, exploited, and alienated others, then accused them of deserting him. He bowed to no authority, but his bravado often shielded hidden insecurities. He took great delight in nature's beauty, but in his poems life and art often diverged. With its multifaceted portrait, rendered with photographic accuracy, this instructive book augments our appreciation of the man and his era. Highly recommended.-- Addie Lee Bracy, Beaver Coll. Lib., Glenside, Pa.
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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9780393309157
  • Publisher: Norton, W. W. & Company, Inc.
  • Publication date: 9/17/1992
  • Pages: 468
  • Product dimensions: 5.00 (w) x 8.00 (h) x 1.00 (d)

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