In the Sierra: Mountain Writings of Kenneth Rexroth
Tuesday, May 15, 2012, 7 P.M., City Lights Bookstore, San Francisco
with editor Kim Stanley Robinson, joined by Tom Killion, Carter Scholz, and Ken Knabb
celebrating the release of
In The Sierra: Mountain Writings
published by New Directions
Over the course of his life, Kenneth Rexroth wrote about the Sierra Nevada better than anyone. Progressive in terms of environmental ethics and comparable to the writings of Emerson, Thoreau, Aldo Leopard, Annie Dillard, and Gary Snyder, Rexroth's poetry and prose described the way Californians have always experienced and loved the High Sierra. Conained in this marvelous collection are transcendent nature poems, as well as prose selections from his memoir An Autobiographical Novel, newspaper columns, published and unpublished WPA guidebooks, and correspondence. Famed science-fiction writer Kim Stanley Robinson has compiled a gift for lovers of mountains and poetry both. This volume also contains Robinson's introduction and notes, photographs of Rexroth, a map of Rexroth's travels, and an amazing astronomical analysis of Rexroth's poems by the fiction writer Carter Scholz.
Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982) was an American poet, translator, essayist and social critic who played a key role in the San Francisco Renaissance of the 1950s and 1960s. His poems are characterized by such an unusual range of concerns that he often began his poetry readings by wryly asking the audience: "Well, what would you like tonight: sex, mysticism or revolution?" Though almost entirely self-educated, his erudition was astonishingly broad-ranging, as reflected in essays on topics as diverse as ancient Chinese science, modern jazz, American Indian songs, California mountaineering, medieval mysticism, avant-garde art and utopian communities. He connected with New Directions from the very beginning, and was both friend and adviser to James Laughlin for the rest of his life. New Directions published most of his books of poetry, including Collected Shorter Poems (1966), Collected Longer Poems (1968), and Selected Poems (1984); his plays (Beyond the Mountains, 1951); his Autobiographical Novel (1964; expanded edition, 1991); several collections of essays (Bird in the Bush, 1959; Assays, 1961; World Outside the Window: Selected Essays, 1987; Classics Revisited, 1986; More Classics Revisited, 1989); and numerous volumes of translations, including 100 Poems from the Chinese, 100 Poems from the Japanese, Women Poets of China, Women Poets of Japan, and Selected Poems of Pierre Reverdy.