(Photo of Bob Kaufman by Ira Nowinski, 1980)
Bob Kaufman was born in New Orleans in 1925 and spent the 1940s in the Merchant Marine. After a brief period as a labor organizer, he lived a peripatetic existence before settling in San Francisco in the late '50s, where he published three poetry broadsides with City Lights Books. In 1959, with Allen Ginsberg and others, he co-founded the long-running magazine Beatitude. Following the assassination of President Kennedy in 1963, he maintained a decade-long vow of silence, which he would periodically resume throughout his life. He published two books during the 1960s, Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness and Golden Sardine, and a third book, The Ancient Rain, in 1981. He died in San Francisco in 1986. He is considered by many to be the finest jazz poet of his generation.