By the early sixties I was eating golden sardines. Filling up on verse I only vaguely understood. Maybe vaguely is not the word. Beginning. Only beginning to grasp. After all, everything starts somewhere. Crawl before you walk, and so forth. Regardless of when or where one is born, if you want to get somewhere, you’ve got to move.
I don’t specifically remember how I got to Bob Kaufman. Was not fully aware he was from New Orleans and certainly it didn’t consciously resonate with me that he had been a union organizer and a merchant marine. But, fully comprehend his scribblings, his life, or not, I was deeply inspired. So inspired that even decades later, I was greedily imbibing the ambrosia raining out of Kaufman’s Cranial Guitar (as the title of his 1996 anthology was titled).
For those who enjoy reading there is a 21st century collection recently released: Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman (Nov. 2019). For those who dig videos, here is And When I Die, I Won’t Stay Dead. The hip among us are going to want both.
After all, even though poets may come three for a quarter, nevertheless, there are wordsmiths whose anviling is quintessential. Necessary as air. Right as rain. (Again, those are literary and musical allusions. But fear not, even if you don’t know the provenance of those words, if you read Kaufman, you will still get wet.)
Poetic outlaw par excellence. He rode/wrote the reality fantastic.
Bob Kaufman. Poet. Man. Get to know him.