Biography of Kenneth Patchen
an American poet and novelist. Though he denied any direct connection, Patchen's work and ideas regarding the role of artists paralleled those of the Dadaists, the Beats, and Surrealists. Patchen's ambitious body of work also foreshadowed literary art-forms ranging from reading poetry to jazz accompaniment to his late experiments with visual poetry (which he called his "picture poems").
In 1911, Kenneth Patchen was born in Niles, Ohio. His lifelong romance with writing commenced at age twelve, when he took up keeping a diary and reading the works of famous writers. His first published work was in his high school newspaper. After working for two years with his father, Patchen when on to college in Alexander Meiklejohn's Experimental College for one year, and then to the University of Wisconsin. He grew bored of his studies, and began to wander around the US. He continued his writing, and in 1934, he married Miriam Oikemus. Patchen dislocated a disk in his spine, an incessantly painful injury, which he lived with for a span of nearly thirty years, before seeking treatment. He died in 1972.
Over the course of his career, which included about forty books, Patchen tried his hand at several types of poetry: concrete poetry, drama, prose, jazz, verse, and the anti-novel. He even published self-illustrated writings, in his own words, were "painted books." Henry Miller called Patchen "The Man of Anger and Light". In his lifetime, he produced many books and poems. His poetry on atrocities of war is especially remembered.
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Kenneth Patchen Poems
Let Us Have Madness
Let us have madness openly. O men Of my generation. Let us follow The footsteps of this slaughtered age:
As We Are So Wonderfully Done With Each ...
As we are so wonderfully done with each other We can walk into our separate sleep On floors of music where the milkwhite cloak of childhood lies
We Go Out Together In The Staring Town
We go out together into the staring town And buy cheese and bread and little jugs with flowered labels
Fall Of The Evening Star
Speak softly; sun going down Out of sight. Come near me now. Dear dying fall of wings as birds
When We Were Here Together
when we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one another. A bit of grass held between the teeth for a moment, bright hair on the wind.
That should be obvious Of course it won't Any fool knows that. Even in the winter.
There Are Not Many Kingdoms Left
I write the lips of the moon upon her shoulders. In a temple of silvery farawayness I guard her to rest. For her bed I write a stillness over all the swans of the
Wherever the dead are there they are and Nothing more. But you and I can expect To see angels in the meadowgrass that look Like cows -
The Artist's Duty
So it is the duty of the artist to discourage all traces of shame To extend all boundaries To fog them in right over the plate To kill only what is ridiculous
The Orange Bears
The Orange bears with soft friendly eyes Who played with me when I was ten, Christ, before I'd left home they'd had Their paws smashed in the rolls, their backs
In The Footsteps Of The Walking Air
In the footsteps of the walking air Sky's prophetic chickens weave their cloth of awe And hillsides lift green wings in somber journeying.
Saturday Night In The Parthenon
Tiny green birds skate over the surface of the room. A naked girl prepares a basin with steaming water, And in the corner away from the hearth, the red wheels Of an up-ended chariot slowly turn.
The Naked Land
A beast stands at my eye. I cook my senses in a dark fire. The old wombs rot and the new mother
Irkalla's White Caves
I believe that a young woman Is standing in a circle of lions In the other side of the sky.
Fall Of The Evening Star
Speak softly; sun going down
Out of sight. Come near me now.
Dear dying fall of wings as birds
complain against the gathering dark...
Exaggerate the green blood in grass;
the music of leaves scraping space;