Winner of the American Book Award
A San Francisco Chronicle Best Book of 2012
Lew Welch was a brilliant and troubled poet, legendary among his Beat peers. Ring of Bone collects poems, songs, and even a few drawings, documenting the full sweep of his creative output, from his early years until just before his death. This new edition includes a biographic timeline and a statement of poetics gleaned from Welch's own writing.
Welch entered Reed College in 1948, and the following year moved into a house with Gary Snyder; they were soon joined by Philip Whalen. With the emergence of the Beat movement, Welch's friends began receiving national attention and his desire to devote himself completely to his poetry was galvanized. He soon became a part of the San Francisco poetry scene.
Legendary editor Donald Allen included Welch's poetry in The New American Poetry – the seminal anthology published in 1960. That same year Welch's first book, Wobbly Rock, was released. He continued to write extensively, and in 1965 published three books. Despite his burgeoning success, Welch suffered from bouts with depression, and on May 23, 1971, Gary Snyder went up to Welch's campsite in the Sierra Nevada mountains and found a suicide note. Despite an extensive search, Welch's body was never recovered.
"Lew Welch writes lyrical poems of clarity, humor, and dark probings . . . jazz musical phrasings of American speech is one of Welch's clearest contributions." —Gary Snyder
"...Music permeates his poems, which range from scored lyrics to epistolary correspondence to formal villanelles... It's fascinating to trace the evolution of this artist, from his early, lax, exultant style to his later, less jubilant work, characterized by benedictions, invocations, and requests. This is a necessary read for anyone interested in the greater Beat movement and its progenitors."—Booklist
""His luminous poems feel as vibrant today as when they first burst from the wellsprings of creativity in his own head... A postmodern Walt Whitman. . ."—San Francisco Chronicle