Gather Essentials Writing ~ Then And Now ~Hanging Out With Kenneth Rexroth

Filed in Gather Writing Essential by on April 11, 2008 0 Comments


Welcome to Gather Essentials: Writing for Friday April 11th.

“For of all sad words of tongue or pen, the saddest are these: ‘It might have been!'”

From John Greenleaf Whittier’s “Maud Muller”

“But that was yesterday, and yesterday’s gone”

From “Yesterdays Gone” song by Chad and Jeremy

“I wish I could shoot the bull with Kenneth again.”

From me

I was fortunate to meet Kenneth Rexroth (1905 – 1982) in my early twenties.  While the time spent with this eminent poet was substantially longer than my evening with Duke Ellington, my sad tale is still about how I lacked the knowledge then to appreciate the man as much as I do now.  Kenneth was a professor in the English Department and Poet Laureate at the University of California Santa Barbara campus in the early 1970s.  He was dubbed “Father of the Beats” and his famous bristling response was “An entomologist is not a bug.” 

My sister was his former student and close friend when I moved to Santa Barbara to pursue the post graduate degree of a Mrs. under the tutelage of aspiring PhD. candidate, Mr. Sam.

I hope my sister, J.K., will write about her fascinating experiences with Kenneth because I was so ditsy in love with Mr. Sam that I barely listened when she announced that we were invited to her friend’s house in Montecito for dinner.  I may have asked “Who is he?” And she most probably would have gushed on for a good ten minutes about how he was her famous genius poet mentor who was witty, world-wise, charming, and fun.  So we went.

We were greeted at the door and entertained graciously by Kenneth and Carol Tinker, his domestic assistant, secretary, and soon to be, fourth wife.   Kenneth was everything J.K. claimed him to be and the five of us had a delicious and entertaining evening.   Sam and I later reciprocated at our place for another lively dinner.  When I asked them yesterday about that second night, both my sister and Sam remembered Kenneth telling funny Yiddish stories.  He certainly charmed us all.

I simply remember that he wore overalls, had a shock of white hair, and towered over me.  His eyes were wicked blue and they crinkled with delight when my sister played her fiddle.  He made me laugh and I felt completely at ease in his eloquently genuine presence. 

If I could talk to him today I would bow and then whisper that reading him is so sublime that I forget to breathe.  How I wish I knew then what I know now.

I found an insightful memorial and a blustery response both written by people he knew on this site:

Do check out two of his inspiring poems:


I’d like to read your story in the accepted forms of fiction (poetry, prose, plays, screenplays) and nonfiction) using the theme of “Then and Now”.  Post a quickie today or take your time and submit something next Friday.  Using the tag “then and now” will help me to identify this prompt when I read your submissions.

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Almost five feet two Green eyes of blueSmall hands, Small FeetBig Heart"Don't ask yourself what the world needs Ask yourself what makes you come alive, and then go do that. Because what the world needs is people who have come ali

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