The singular work of Kenneth Patchen has influenced poets, artists and political activists for decades. New Directions is proud to launch a Patchen revival beginning with omnibus editions of his unique compositions.
We Meet highlights Patchen's more outlandish side and includes, like fabrics stitched into a crazy quilt, Because It Is, A Letter to God, Poemscapes, Hurrah For Anything, and Aflame & Afun of Walking Faces. "Because to understand one must begin somewhere," opens Patchen's fabulous book of poems Because It Is: perhaps the most ideal reason for such a melting pot of poetry. Open any page at random and find Patchen protesting the Second World War (A Letter to God), or telling the tale of how hot water first came to be tracked onto bedroom floors (Aflame and Afun of Walking Faces), or informing the reader what happened when the nervous vine wouldn't twine (Because It Is), or why he loathes those who act as if a cherry were something they personally thought up (Hurrah For Anything), or answering what he wants out of life: "let's sayŚno matter" (Poemscapes).
Kenneth Patchen (1911-1972) was one of the most prolific American poets of his time. He was born in Niles, Ohio. He attended school at the University of Madison-Wisconsin where he met his wife, Miriam Oikemus. They moved to Greenwich Village and befriended many writers including E.E. Cummings, Anais N´n, and Henry Miller. An accident occurred after his first publication that would eventually leave him an invalid. He and his wife later moved to San Francisco during the early years of the Beat Movement. Many Beat poets would cite Patchen as a major influence. His "experimental protests" in poetry, painting, and prose remain unprecedented. Aside from his many books of poetry, his acclaimed novels, and his concrete visual works, Kenneth Patchen also collaborated with John Cage for the radio-play The City Wears a Slouch Hat, and worked with Charles Mingus developing jazz poetry. Patchen was an unwavering pacifist and many of his works have a political bent. Patchen was the first recipient of an NEA Literary Grant in 1967.