Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman / ISBN 9780872867697 / 276-page paperback from City Lights
2020 American Book Award Winner
"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."—The New York Times
"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."—San Francisco Chronicle
"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. … This is a necessary gift for poets and poetry readers."—Booklist
“He was an original voice. No one else talked like him. No one else wrote poetry like him.”—Lawrence Ferlinghetti
Bob Kaufman (1925–1986) was one of the most important—and most original—poets of the twentieth century. He is among the inaugurators of what today is characterized as the Afro-Surreal, uniting the surrealist practice of automatic writing with the jazz concept of spontaneous composition. He seldom wrote his poems down and often discarded those he did, leaving them to be rescued by others. He was also a legendary figure of the Beat Generation, known as much for hopping on tables to declaim his poetry as for maintaining a monastic silence for months or even years at a time.
Kaufman produced just three broadsides and three books in his lifetime. In 1967, Golden Sardine was published by City Lights in its famed Pocket Poets Series, and became an instant cult classic. Collected Poems is a landmark poetic achievement, bringing together all of Kaufman’s known surviving poems, including an extensive section of previously uncollected work, in a long overdue return to City Lights Books.
"Bob Kaufman volcanically en-veined the Beats as a mirage enveloped Surrealist; not as a formal poet, but one, like Rimbaud, who embodied butane. Following the scent of his butane on one anonymous North Beach afternoon led Philip Lamantia to audibly utter to me that Bob Kaufman as per incandescent singularity is 'our poet.'"—Will Alexander, author of Compression & Purity