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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


Page ViewsPoemComments
3377 The Orange Bears Comments and analysis of The Orange Bears by Kenneth Patchen 35 Comments
3209 The Slums
2870 The Artist's Duty
2808 Let Us Have Madness
2711 The Naked Land
2131 Irkalla's White Caves
1166 Saturday Night in the Parthenon Comments and analysis of Saturday Night in the Parthenon by Kenneth Patchen 9 Comments
762 Pastoral Comments and analysis of Pastoral by Kenneth Patchen 209 Comments
477 The Hangman's Great Hands
473 There Are Not Many Kingdoms Left Comments and analysis of There Are Not Many Kingdoms Left by Kenneth Patchen 6 Comments
401 When We Were Here Together
398 As We Are So Wonderfully Done With Each Other
380 Creation
298 The Temple
272 Fall of the Evening Star
119 We Go Out Together In the Staring Town Comments and analysis of We Go Out Together In the Staring Town by Kenneth Patchen 1 Comment
14 In the footsteps of the walking air


Books by Kenneth Patchen
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