Kenneth Rexroth

Kenneth Rexroth, 1905–82, American poet, critic, and translator, b. South Bend, Ind. A resident of San Francisco, he was briefly associated with the beat generation, although he disdained their lack of discipline. Self-educated, he taught himself several languages; his translations include One Hundred Poems from the Japanese (1956) and The Orchid Boat: Women Poets of China (with Ling Chung, 1973). He is best known, however, for his own poetry. Modernist in his early life, simple and Zenlike in his later years, his verse is unified by autobiographical content, a mingling of the personal with the political, and a concern with the transience of life and the transcendent joys of nature and eros. His verse collections include In What Hour (1940), The Phoenix and the Tortoise (1944), In Defense of the Earth (1956), and New Poems (1974). He also wrote one volume of verse plays, Beyond the Mountains (1951), and several volumes of essays, including Bird in the Bush (1959), Alternative Society: Essays from the Other World (1970), and Communalism: From Its Origins to the 20th Century (1975).

See S. Hamill and B. Morrow, ed., The Complete Poems of Kenneth Rexroth (2003); biography by L. Hamalian (1991); studies by M. Gibson (1972 and 1986), L. Bartlett (1988), K. Knabb (1990), and D. Gutierrez (1996).

The Columbia Encyclopedia, 6th ed. Copyright© 2015, The Columbia University Press.

Kenneth Rexroth: Selected full-text books and articles

A Life of Kenneth Rexroth By Linda Hamalian W. W. Norton, 1991
The Collected Shorter Poems By Kenneth Rexroth New Directions, 1967
The Collected Longer Poems By Kenneth Rexroth New Directions, 1968
Beyond the Mountains By Kenneth Rexroth New Directions, 1951
World outside the Window: The Selected Essays of Kenneth Rexroth By Kenneth Rexroth; Bradford Morrow New Directions, 1987
The Maze in the Mind and the World: Labyrinths in Modern Literature By Donald Gutierrez Whitston, 1985
Librarian’s tip: Chap. 6 "The Love Poetry of Kenneth Rexroth"
Contemporaries By Alfred Kazin Little, Brown, 1962
Picturing Mind: Paradox, Indeterminacy and Consciousness in Art and Poetry By John Danvers Rodopi, 2006
Librarian’s tip: "Kenneth Rexroth" begins on p. 296
Leaders from the 1960s: A Biographical Sourcebook of American Activism By David DeLeon Greenwood Press, 1994
Librarian’s tip: "Kenneth Rexroth (1905-1982): Anarchist, Poet, and Critic" begins on p. 425
The Oxford Companion to Twentieth-Century Poetry in English By Ian Hamilton Oxford University Press, 1996
Librarian’s tip: "Rexroth, Kenneth" begins on p. 448
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