Ring of Bone

Ring of Bone
Collected Poems (New & Expanded Edition)
Foreword by Gary Snyder

Press Reviews


"There is a vibrancy in Welch's work that is one of the attractive features of Beat poetry. What is refreshing, however, is that his focus is not on himself most often, but rather on the mind in the world, gazing, considering, yearning for transcendence. Ring of Bone is an important and welcome publication that will bring this significant poet into wider consideration." –Stephan Delbos, BODY

Chicago Review

"Of all the New American poets wedded to a speech-based poetics, Welch was perhaps the most total in his commitment and had perhaps the finest ear for the "American idiom." But his texts are secondary not only to vocal performance but also to the person of Lew Welch himself, to his lifestyle or vocation. While he was no confessional poet, Ring of Bone reads as the notation of a life lived in poetry—not a life lived to produce poems, but a life lived as poetry, of which the texts are mere remains ... Ring of Bone's textual record gives way to archived audio recordings; his scores give way to his own ghostly voice, technologically preserved and reanimated; his voice gives way to his reader's voice ... In ways that he perhaps could not quite predict, Welch has become a multimedia poet. Somewhere between the book and the audio archive, his Collected Poems almost dissolves into collective life itself."––Patrick Morrissey

Galatea Ressurects

"It's not all pretty Buddhist haiku-land, but often there is joy."

American Book Review

"Welch puts himself firmly in his poems, alternately vulnerable and proud, but always open."

The Rumpus

"In the poet's own words, [Ring of Bone] is a spiritual autobiography . . . Lew Welch was many things; a scholar, a father, a drunk, a laborer, an adman, a madman, a friend, and an ascetic— no better description of him exists than that which came in his own vision, deep in the wilds of the Klamath Mountains, the poem after which the collection is titled... These 40 years later, Lew, you are missed."

—Lisa Wells

HTML Giant

"Slang envelops Welch's poems without ever diminishing them."

—Patrick James Dunagan

Rain Taxi

"Welch's poetry bristles with earnest desire to live a fully unalienated life; in his preface, Welch refers to the book as a "spiritual autobiography.""

—Maria Damon

Powell's Books Blog

"Welch's art is visionary, magical, almost shamanic; I actually don't think that even the word prophetic would be too strong. In many ways, he was head and shoulders above his peers. This stuff is wild, so finely honed that no word, thought, or phrase falls amiss on the page."

—Chris Faatz

The Daily Beat

"Welch's poems ring true to our own experiences with a rare clarity amidst their jazz phrasings and spontaneous feel. . . I give Ring of Bone my strongest recommendation."

—Rick Dale

San Francisco Chronicle

"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. . ."

—Jonah Raskin

Beat Scene Magazine

"Ring of Bone is the most comprehensive collection of the poetry of Lew Welch."

—Eric Jacobs

The Oregonian

"'Ring of Bone: Collected Poems' is Welch's major work. Exuberant, funny, dark, hypnotic, Welch's poems are as infused with nature as [Gary] Snyder's and as spiritually alive as [Philip] Whalen's. They're technically brilliant, grounded in form and wildly experimental."

—Jeff Baker


"...Music permeates his poems, which range from scored lyrics to epistolary correspondence to formal villanelles. Welch muses on things galaxial and local, trivial and most profound, in a tone somehow both deadpan and stentorian. 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."

— Diego Báez

HTML Giant

". . . This new and expanded edition by City Lights Press encompasses Welch's poetry, music, drawings and critical writings, providing fans with a definitive edition of the poet’s long-lost works, and new readers with an expansive sample of his writing. . . By nature of their visionary quality, these poems form a world of dreams and nightmares so convincingly that strict organization proves ultimately unnecessary. Instead, the poems speak to each other across time through their musical tonalities and recurring thematic tensions, thus constructing one of many "rings" invoked by the book’s title. . . ."

—Jessica Comola

Library Journal

Ring of Bone was mentioned as a poetry collection that stands out.

The Electric Review

"Ring of Bone serves as an incisive and in-depth summary of Lew Welch's work and spirit. It remains required reading for both fans and scholars of the Beat Generation."

—John Aiello