Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman
Foreword by devorah major
Edited by Neeli Cherkovski, Raymond Foye, Tate Swindell
Nov 1, 2019
"Twentieth-century American poetry cannot be fully comprehended without Bob Kaufman. City Lights and the editors do a grand service to literature by publishing Kaufman's poetry in one collection. Following a generous introduction by fellow San Franciscan poet devorah major, the poems have been meticulously gathered from published and unpublished works, essays, and transcribed oral performances. As a figure among the early Beat poets of the 1950s, Kaufman poetically predated the long rants of Ginsberg and streams of consciousness of Kerouac with succinct poems filled with rhythmic imagery and relayed in his distinct voice. Not to be pegged in, Kaufman often switched up forms and played with language in innovative ways. Kaufman’s numerous poems take the reader through the history of his varied influences, which combine a strong surrealist flare with the unabashed romanticism of Rimbaud, and always present is his foundational appreciation of jazz. Were the poems in this collection to be rendered in paint, they would grace the walls of modern art wings and museums across the country. This is a necessary gift for poets and poetry readers."––Michael Ruzicka
San Francisco Chronicle
Nov 1, 2019
"The body of work is small but voluminous in intensity, spirit and soul, with a lineage that runs from Charles Baudelaire to Charles Mingus. Kaufman—with his commitment to the art, his surreal eye on the urban experience and beyond it, and his jazz timing—brings San Francisco to life."––Denise Sullivan
"10 New Books We Recommend This Week"
Oct 31, 2019
Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman appears in this list.
The New York Times
Oct 18, 2019
"The Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman is the most comprehensive selection of his verse to date, a volume that contains a lot of previously uncollected work. . . . this book makes a case for him as a perceptive and eccentric American original, a man who seems to have fallen out of the sky like a meteor."––Dwight Garner
The Brooklyn Rail
Nov 1, 2019
"The Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman makes the case that Kaufman was more than the sum of various discrete identities. Beyond his Beat and jazz affiliations, beyond his connections to surrealism, and beyond his love for poetry as performance, he embodies the quest of one individual in relentless pursuit of an authentic self through uninhibited creative acts. . . . Ultimately, what each section of The Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman demonstrates over and over is how present each poem is in the moment of its creation, as if the creative impulse asserts itself as naturally as breath. Instead of chiseling perfectly sculpted poems of Parnassian splendor, the poet's arch, apt, and often wild work is an unmediated extension of the man who, by 1955, had already sailed the world as a member of the National Maritime Union and later, in San Francisco, climbed on top of stopped cars to recite spontaneous verse. Complicated, observant, yet uniquely uncorrupted and vulnerable, Kaufman earns the much overused and oft-misunderstood adjective 'original.' His poems are suffused with humility, authority, and something approaching 'Laughter on exotic beds.'"––Tony Leuzzi
Sep 15, 2019
devorah major's foreword to Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman excerpted in The Brooklyn Rail.