[Bob Kaufman 1925-1986]
April 18 is the birthday of the late great Bob Kaufman. Cranial Guitar, his Selected Poems from Coffee House Press, is certainly a good place to start – and check out in there the very useful (28-page) introduction by poet David Henderson (in fact, check out, if you can find it, Henderson’s 1991 NPR documentary (co-produced with Vic Bedoian), “Bob Kaufman, Poet”, it’s a remarkable work in and of itself). Another useful secondary source is A.D. Winans memoir, posted here. Jack Hirschman, at the “Does The Secret Mind Whisper?” celebrations, a few years back, adds his thoughts, and Harryette Mullen, both sets the scene and reads Kaufman’s immortal “All Those Ships That Never Sailed”.
Here’s Marty Matz giving a spirited reading of “The Poet” and Ian Dury (we’ve featured him here before, reading Gregory Corso), giving a quirky-but-effective reading of “Bagel Shop Jazz”, but the real treat is the voice of the man himself, buried away on this little gem, following a talk (similarly rare) by another San Francisco legend, Philip Lamantia.
The seminal Beatitude magazine was begun in 1959 with John Kelley, William Margoll and Allen. (“Kaufman was there on the mimeo machine, doing the actual work of putting out Beatitude. I think that was the first time I met him”). “We’re blessed by the ghost of Bob Kaufman who’s spirit exists ever breathing in the earth” – Mel Clay, in his “Impressionistic” biography, Jazz – Jail and God, quotes Allen’s estimation.
Happy Birthday in Eternity, Bob.