Friday, June 03, 2005

Celebrate Kenneth Rexroth!

Celebration of Kenneth Rexroth's 100th Birthday
Sunday, June 4, 4:00, Santa Monica Beach, Santa Monica /CA
behind lifeguard station #24, about 3/4 miles south of Santa Monica Pier parking lot just south of Ocean Park
A reading of his poems, free & open to th public

Worldwide celebration:
January 19th, 6 pm Kaminarimon, Sensoji Temple, Asakusa, Tokoyo, Japan
March 20th, 5 pm, Grey Area, All Areas, Oude Lelierstraat 2, Amsterdam, Holland
June 25th, 2-4 pm, Rexroth Panel, Notre Dame de Namur University, Belmont CA USA
August 22, 4:30, Muhinjuan, Doshisha University, Guest House, Kyoto, Japan
August 28th--all day, Wat Chai Wattanarm, Ayutthaya, Thaland

Kenneth Rexroth more than any other writer created the best in California culture. He was the father of the Beats in San Francisco, Long before Kerouac, Rexroth had hitchhiked across the country, working at odd jobs. Linda Hamalian has said, “Rexroth slipped into the spell of the American West, of the California spaces, the mountains, the forests, the wild terrain, and the Pacific Ocean itself.” He saw the divine in the natural world around him, and his poetry exactly captures the natural world he loved. Long before poet Gary Snyder Rexroth was writing an environmentalist poetry. He was a pioneer translator of Japanese and Chinese poetry into English, paving the way for generations to turn to Asian philosophy and art.

Rexroth was a populist, mystic, and pacifist, participating in radical protests from fighting for workers’ justice in the 1930s to the 1960s where he supported the civil rights movement and was against the Vietnam War. He declared that he was a radical, "a social outcast [who] identified...with the forces striving for a better social system, a system in which humanity and leisure for vital appreciation of the arts would be the common property of all men." He was always ignored by East Coast critics and establishment.

Linda Hamalian has said that Rexroth wrote poetry for

‘all producing classes of the west,’ the workers and the farmers the country depended on, using the words from factories, farms, and trades, as Whitman would have them do. Rexroth was pleading, ultimately, for the recognition of regional literary magazines filled with good writing. More basically, he was stating that in order for people to tap into their creative energy, and to respect, seek and support the art and poetry of others, they had to feel connected to their immediate environment. In a sense, Rexroth was redefining democracy in dynamic terms by asserting that a free country was a country that nurtured and validated an artistic sensibility in all people, a position that Whitman had articulated more than fifty years earlier in "Democratic Vistas."

He took his ideas into action in the late 1940s in San Francisco when he organized a salon at his house for new poets—the beats. In this salon Asian and Native American literatures were respected as much as the European literature. He started reading poetry to jazz. He started a poetry of democracy, of environmental sanity, of equality for all people. Yes, we should all celebrate Kenneth Rexroth.

1 comment:

J said...

ah have read some rexroth with appreciation though he's a tad too primitive and mystico for moi; yes he's a bit snyder or thoreau-ish, if perhaps a bit more, um, ribald; really I think were he alive now he'd be on the street somewhere in the bay......