Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982)

A selective list of online literary criticism for San Francisco poet Kenneth Rexroth, favoring signed articles by recognized scholars and articles published in peer-reviewed sources


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introduction & biography

"Kenneth Rexroth." An introduction to Kenneth Rexroth, plus excerpts of reputable critical discussions of his poetry: On "The Love Poems of Marichiko"; "Re-Discovering Community: Rexroth and the Whitman Tradition," by Linda Hamalian; "On Rexroth's Poetry," by Donald K. Gutierrez; "Thoughts on Rexroth's Prosody" by Bradford Morrow; and the Introduction to Sacramental Acts: The Love Poems of Kenneth Rexroth, by Sam Hamill and Elaine Laura Kleiner, which begins: "By turns revolutionary and conservative, simultaneously spiritual and worldly, Asian and Western, Kenneth Rexroth created what must surely be regarded as the most original synthesis of transcendent metaphysical and erotic verse ever written by an American poet." Modern American Poetry (U of Illinois).

"Kenneth Rexroth." Biography, selected poems, links to related poets. Academy of American Poets.

"One Hundred More Poems from the Chinese." A brief review of Kenneth Rexroth's Chinese poetry translations emphasizes how enjoyable they are. By Robert Westbrook.


literary criticism

Gibson, Morgan. Revolutionary Rexroth: Poet of East/West Wisdom. Complete online book on Rexroth.

Knabb, Ken. The Relevance of Rexroth. Another complete online book on Rexroth, available through the Rexroth Archive.

"Kenneth Patchen, Naturalist of the Public Nightmare." An essay by Rexroth presents his views of what was wrong with poetry in the 1950s. Originally published in Bird in the Bush (New Directions 1959).

The Kenneth Rexroth Archive at the Bureau of Public Secrets, reprints Rexroth's essays, articles, and reviews.


The San Francisco Renaissance

Fields, Rick. How the Swans Came to the Lake: A Narrative History of Buddhism in America (Shambhala Publications). Publisher's web site.

Gioia, Dana. "Fallen Western Star: The Decline of San Francisco as a Literary Region." Orig. pub. in Denver Quarterly (Fall 1998). Responses to Gioia's article in Poetry Flash.

Rexroth, Kenneth. "Rexroth's San Francisco," poet Kenneth Rexroth on the arrival of the Beats. From the San Francisco Examiner and San Francisco Magazine, 1960-1975, rpt. at BOP Secrets.

Russo, Linda. "'to be Jack Spicer in a dream': Joanne Kyger and the San Francisco Renaissance, 1957-65." Jacket 7 (April 1999). See this issue also for special Jack Spicer feature.

"The Beats, San Francisco," part of The Psychedelic '60s: Literary Tradition and Social Change, online exhibit of objects and books from the Univ. of Virginia Library, Special Collections Dept.

The history of Circle magazine, an experimental San Francisco publication started in 1944.

Hayward, Michael. The publishing history of Beat writers, MA thesis (1991).

Details on the reading "6 Poets at 6 Gallery" in San Francisco, 1955.


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