Bob Kaufman

Robert Cornell Kaufman was the thirteenth of fourteen children born to a German Jewish father and a mother from Martinique. His great-grandmother, brought to Louisiana on an African slave ship, was a great influence in his youth, as was his father’s Orthodox Judaism and his mother’s devout Roman Catholicism. After the death of his father, Bob Kaufman left home to become cabin boy on a freighter. The first mate took a fatherly interest in the 13-year-old boy, instilling in him a thirst for literature and the arts, providing him with books by the world’s great writers. He remained in the Merchant Marine for twenty years, sailing around the world nine times. India and Africa were his favorite stops. In the 1950’s, while working as a steward at the Los Angeles Hilton, Bob Kaufman met Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso, and joined with them in the budding San Francisco literary “renaissance.” He was one of the founders of Beatitude, the North Beach poetry magazine, which ran for 17 issues and has been widely anthologized.

The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978

Poetry by Bob Kaufman

The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978 is San Francisco poet Bob Kaufman’s third collection and his first to be published since the late 1960s. One of the original Beat poets (the coinage “beatnik” is his), Kaufman’s work has always been essentially improvisational, often done to jazz accompaniment. And he became something of a legendary figure at the poetry readings in the early days of the San Francisco renaissance of the 1950s. With his extemporaneous technique, akin in many ways to Surrealist automatic writing, he has produced a body of work ranging from a visionary lyricism infused with satirical, almost Dadaistic elements to a prophetic poetry of political and social protest.…
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Solitudes Crowded With Loneliness

Poetry by Bob Kaufman

With a contribution by Bob Kaufman

Published in 1965, Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness assembles ten years’ work of Bob Kaufman, celebrated in San Francisco as the original Beat and in France as “the American Rimbaud.” Kaufman, one of fourteen children born in Louisiana to a German Jewish father and a Black Catholic mother, ran away to sea when he was thirteen, circling the globe nine times in the next twenty years. In the 1950s, while working as a waiter at the Los Angeles Hilton, he met another erstwhile member of the Merchant Marine, Jack Kerouac, and soon thereafter both moved north to found, along with Allen Ginsberg, Gregory Corso, and others, the San Francisco literary “renaissance” of the time.…
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