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Biography of Kenneth Patchen

Kenneth Patchen

Kenneth Patchen (1911 - 1972)

Kenneth Patchen (December 13, 1911 - January 8, 1972) was an American poet and painter. He was an influence on the beat movement.

Patchen was born in Niles, Ohio. He attended Alexander Meiklejohn's Experimental College for one year and then the University of Wisconsin. For much of his life Patchen suffered from a spinal disorder which caused extreme pain.

Patchen espoused anarchism and pacifism, and much of his work opposes war. He was against U.S. involvement in World War II, believing that the high ideals of protecting democracy were betrayed by political machinations and senseless violence.

In 1942 Patchen collaborated with the composer John Cage on the radio play The City Wears A Slouch Hat.

In the early fifties he pioneered an artform which combined spoken poetry and jazz. Charles Mingus was one of his better-known collaborators. This was alluded to in Mingus' book, "Beneath the Underdog," and the original liner notes from the Columbia LP, "Mingus Ah Um." No known recordings of this particular collaboration are in existence.

Moe Ash of Folkways Records made some recordings of Patchen reading his poetry and excerpts from one of his novels. These recordings were released as "Kenneth Patchen Reads with Jazz in Canada" (1959), "Selected Poems of Kenneth Patchen" (1960), and "Kenneth Patchen Reads His Love Poems" (released 1961). "From Albion Moonlight" was recorded later at Patchen’s home but not released until 1972 by Folkways.

Many of his poems have been set to music by David Bedford. Composer Kyle Gann has set his voice reading a text to music (see below) and violinist Carla Kihlstedt set a text on the "Patchen" track of her solo Tzadik release Two Foot Yard.


Biography by: This article is licensed under the GNU Free Documentation License and uses material adapted in whole or in part from the Wikipedia article on Kenneth Patchen.


17 Poems written by Kenneth Patchen

The poems are by default sorted according to volume, but you can also choose to sort them alphabetically or by page views.

Volume | Alphabetically | Page Views | Comments | [First Lines]


First LineComments
A beast stands at my eye.
And all that is this day. . .
As we are so wonderfully done with each other
I believe that a young woman
I write the lips of the moon upon her shoulders. In a Comments and analysis of There Are Not Many Kingdoms Left by Kenneth Patchen 1 Comment
In the footsteps of the walking air
Let us have madness openly.
So it is the duty of the artist to discourage all traces of shame
Speak softly; sun going down
That should be obvious
The Dove walks with sticky feet Comments and analysis of Pastoral by Kenneth Patchen 201 Comments
The Orange bears with soft friendly eyes Comments and analysis of The Orange Bears by Kenneth Patchen 29 Comments
Tiny green birds skate over the surface of the room. Comments and analysis of Saturday Night in the Parthenon by Kenneth Patchen 8 Comments
To leave the earth was my wish, and no will stayed my rising.
We go out together into the staring town Comments and analysis of We Go Out Together In the Staring Town by Kenneth Patchen 1 Comment
when we were here together in a place we did not know, nor one
Wherever the dead are there they are and


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