Date of Award


Document Type




First Reader



Kenneth Patchen has been, and continues to be, one of the most influential and controversial figures in contemporary American literature; very few people who read Patchen come away unchanged or uninfluenced by his poetry, and few, if any, of his readers are of mixed emotions about the value of his work: It is either sheer magic and of tremendous artistic merit or it is rough, emotional garbage, a judgement often dependent upon the courage of the reader. Patchen is not held in high esteem publicly by many poets and critics. The American poet Kenneth Rexroth was once advised by an anonymous friend to avoid dealing with Patchen "because it might damage his promising career." Many poets privately acknowledge a great respect for Patchen, but hardly any of them state their feelings publicly or in their work. (From a purely personal standpoint, I have often wanted to ask "Why does one man's artistry make another man so unsure of his own work unless he doubts his own ability?") Patchen, like perhaps no other American poet, "tells it like it is."



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