ChickenBones: A Journal

for Literary & Artistic African-American Themes

   

Home  ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)  

Google
 

From the late 1960s onward, through stretches of withdrawal and suffering the ill effects

of political blacklisting and harassment, alcohol, drugs, electroshock treatments,

and imprisonments, Kaufman recorded both with humor and pathos the pain of society's victims.

 

 

Books by Bob Kaufman

 

Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness  /   The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978  / Second April  /

 

Cranial Guitar: Selected Poems / The Golden Sardine

 

*   *   *   *   *

 

Bob Kaufman

(1925-1986)

By Katherine V. Lindberg

 

Poet, prose poet, jazz performance artist, satirist, manifesto writer, and legendary figure in the Beat movement, Bob Kaufman successfully promoted both anonymity and myths of his racial identity and class origins. While romanticized biographies ascribe him with such names as griot, shaman, saint, and prophet of Caribbean, African, Native American, Catholic, and/or Jewish traditions, respectively, Kaufman was most likely the tenth of thirteen children of an African American and part Jewish father and a schoolteacher mother from an old New Orleans African American catholic family. After an orderly childhood that probably included a secondary education, he joined the merchant marine and became active in the radical Seafarer's Union.

An itinerant drifter and self-taught poet (but a brief stint at the New school for Social Research and among the Black Arts and Beat literati of New York), he identified with the lives and cryptically quoted the works of poet-heroes such as Herman Melville, Walt Whitman, Arthur Rimbaud, Guillaume Apollinaire, Federico Garcia Lorca, Hart Crane, Gertrude Stein, Langston Hughes, Frantz Fanon, Aime Cesaire, and Nicholas guillen, as well as improvisational artists and jazz musicians, including Charlie Parker, after whom he named his only son. In individual poems he is, variously, an experimental stylist in the Whitman tradition ("The American Sun"), a French surrealist and existentialist ("Camus: I Want to Know"), a jazz poet after Langston Hughes, and in dialogue with bebop and the Black Arts movement ("African Dream," "Walking Parker Home").

As editor of Beatitude, a San Francisco literary magazine, Kaufman is credited by some with coming "Beat" and exemplifying its voluntarily desolate lifestyle. He enjoyed an underground existence as a "poets' poet" (in Amiri Baraka's poem "Meditation on Bob Kaufman," Sulfur, Fall 1991) and as a legendary performer in the much memorialized street scenes of San Francisco's North Bend and New York's Greenwich Village during the late 1950s through the late 1970s.

Kaufman is best known for short lyric poems in African American (Langston Hughes, ed. The New Negro Poetry, 1964, being the first) and avant-garde anthologies (New directions in prose and Poetry #17, 1967, covering poetry and prose, The Portable Beat Reader, 1992). Works originally published by City Lights Bookstore of San Francisco are collected in two New Directions publications, Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness (1965) and The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978 (1981). Three early broadsides, Abomunist Manifesto (1959), Second April (1959), and Does the Secret Mind Whisper (1960) extend his eclectic aesthetics into prose fiction and programmatic prose poetry. The Golden Sardine (1967) was translated and influential in France (as William Burroughs, Claude Pelieu, Bob Kaufman, Paris, 1967). The latter, along with South American and other translations, have earned Kaufman a wider reputation abroad than among mainstream critics in the United States.

Rather than address electoral, protest, or even literary politics in traditional ways, his elusive and allusive writings as well as his tragicomic life sustain a critique of the subtle rules and terrible punishment that, as he knew them, enforce American bourgeois values of race, class, sexuality, and rationality. Answering Mccarthyism, Beat, and Black Arts manifestoes with Dadaist anarchism and surrealist irrationalism, "Abomunism" (his contraction of, among other things, communism, atom bomb, Bob Kaufman, and abomination) is serious in its "black humor."

From the late 1960s onward, through stretches of withdrawal and suffering the ill effects of political blacklisting and harassment, alcohol, drugs, electroshock treatments, and imprisonments, Kaufman recorded both with humor and pathos the pain of society's victims. While no booklength study has yet been devoted to Kaufman, several recent essays affirm his  deceptively broad intellectual interests and the ambiguous power of individual acts of cultural resistance in the continuing struggles of oppressed peoples.

See Barbara Christian, "Whatever Happened to Bob Kaufman?' Black World 21 (Sept. 1972): 20-29.

Maha damon, "'Unmeaning Jargon' / Uncanonized Beatitude: Bob Kaufman, Poet," South Atlantic Quarterly 87.4 (Fall 1988): 701-741.

Kathryne V. Lindberg, "Bob Kaufman, Sir Real," Talisman 11 (Fall 1993): 167-182.

Gerald Nicosian, ed. Cranial Guitar: Selected Poems by Bob Kaufman, 1996.

*   *   *   *   *

Round About Midnight

By Bon Kaufman

Jazz radio on a midnight kick,

Round about Midnight.

 

Sitting on the bed,

With a jazz type chick

Round about Midnight,

 

Piano laughter, in my ears,

Round about Midnight.

 

Stirring up laughter, dying tears,

Round about Midnight.

Soft blue voices, muted grins,

Excited voices, Father's sins,

Round about Midnight.

 

Come on baby, take off your clothes,

Round about Midnight,

*   *   *   *   *

Jazz Chick

              By Bob Kaufman

Music from her breast, vibrating

Soundseared into burnished velvet.

Silent hips deceiving fools.

Rivulets of tricking ecstasy

from the alabaster pools of Jazz

Where music cools hot souls.

Eyes more articulately silent

Than medusa's thousand tongues.

A bridge of eyes, consenting smiles

reveal her presence singing

Of cool remembrances, happy nalls

Wrapped in swinging

Jazz

Her music . . .

Jazz.

*   *   *   *   *

Bob Kaufman (April 18, 1925 – January 12, 1986), born Robert Garnell Kaufman, was an American Beat poet and surrealist inspired by jazz music. In France, where his poetry had a large following, he was known as the "American Rimbaud." . . . His poetry made use of jazz syncopation and meter. The critic Raymond Foye wrote about him, "Adapting the harmonic complexities and spontaneous invention of bebop to poetic euphony and meter, he became the quintessential jazz poet."

Poet Jack Micheline said about Kaufman, "I found his work to be essentially improvisational, and was at its best when accompanied by a jazz musician. His technique resembled that of the surreal school of poets, ranging from a powerful, visionary lyricism of satirical, near dadaistic leanings, to the more prophetic tone that can be found in his political poems." Kaufman said of his own work, "My head is a bony guitar, strung with tongues, plucked by fingers & nails."

After learning of the assassination of John F. Kennedy, Kaufman took a Buddhist vow of silence that lasted until the end of the Vietnam War in 1973. He broke his silence by reciting his poem "All Those Ships that Never Sailed," the first lines of which are

All those ships that never sailed

The ones with their seacocks open

That were scuttled in their stalls...

Today I bring them back

Huge and intransitory

And let them sail

Forever

Source: Wikipedia

*   *   *   *   *

AALBC.com's 25 Best Selling Books


 

Fiction

#1 - Justify My Thug by Wahida Clark
#2 - Flyy Girl by Omar Tyree
#3 - Head Bangers: An APF Sexcapade by Zane
#4 - Life Is Short But Wide by J. California Cooper
#5 - Stackin' Paper 2 Genesis' Payback by Joy King
#6 - Thug Lovin' (Thug 4) by Wahida Clark
#7 - When I Get Where I'm Going by Cheryl Robinson
#8 - Casting the First Stone by Kimberla Lawson Roby
#9 - The Sex Chronicles: Shattering the Myth by Zane

#10 - Covenant: A Thriller  by Brandon Massey

#11 - Diary Of A Street Diva  by Ashley and JaQuavis

#12 - Don't Ever Tell  by Brandon Massey

#13 - For colored girls who have considered suicide  by Ntozake Shange

#14 - For the Love of Money : A Novel by Omar Tyree

#15 - Homemade Loves  by J. California Cooper

#16 - The Future Has a Past: Stories by J. California Cooper

#17 - Player Haters by Carl Weber

#18 - Purple Panties: An Eroticanoir.com Anthology by Sidney Molare

#19 - Stackin' Paper by Joy King

#20 - Children of the Street: An Inspector Darko Dawson Mystery by Kwei Quartey

#21 - The Upper Room by Mary Monroe

#22 – Thug Matrimony  by Wahida Clark

#23 - Thugs And The Women Who Love Them by Wahida Clark

#24 - Married Men by Carl Weber

#25 - I Dreamt I Was in Heaven - The Rampage of the Rufus Buck Gang by Leonce Gaiter

Non-fiction

#1 - Malcolm X: A Life of Reinvention by Manning Marable
#2 - Confessions of a Video Vixen by Karrine Steffans
#3 - Dear G-Spot: Straight Talk About Sex and Love by Zane
#4 - Letters to a Young Brother: MANifest Your Destiny by Hill Harper
#5 - Peace from Broken Pieces: How to Get Through What You're Going Through by Iyanla Vanzant
#6 - Selected Writings and Speeches of Marcus Garvey by Marcus Garvey
#7 - The Ebony Cookbook: A Date with a Dish by Freda DeKnight
#8 - The Isis Papers: The Keys to the Colors by Frances Cress Welsing
#9 - The Mis-Education of the Negro by Carter Godwin Woodson

#10 - John Henrik Clarke and the Power of Africana History  by Ahati N. N. Toure

#11 - Fail Up: 20 Lessons on Building Success from Failure by Tavis Smiley

#12 -The New Jim Crow: Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness by Michelle Alexander

#13 - The Black Male Handbook: A Blueprint for Life by Kevin Powell

#14 - The Other Wes Moore: One Name, Two Fates by Wes Moore

#15 - Why Men Fear Marriage: The Surprising Truth Behind Why So Many Men Can't Commit  by RM Johnson

#16 - Black Titan: A.G. Gaston and the Making of a Black American Millionaire by Carol Jenkins

#17 - Brainwashed: Challenging the Myth of Black Inferiority by Tom Burrell

#18 - A New Earth: Awakening to Your Life's Purpose by Eckhart Tolle

#19 - John Oliver Killens: A Life of Black Literary Activism by Keith Gilyard

#20 - Alain L. Locke: The Biography of a Philosopher by Leonard Harris

#21 - Age Ain't Nothing but a Number: Black Women Explore Midlife by Carleen Brice

#22 - 2012 Guide to Literary Agents by Chuck Sambuchino
#23 - Chicken Soup for the Prisoner's Soul by Tom Lagana
#24 - 101 Things Every Boy/Young Man of Color Should Know by LaMarr Darnell Shields

#25 - Beyond the Black Lady: Sexuality and the New African American Middle Class  by Lisa B. Thompson

*   *   *   *   *

Super Rich: A Guide to Having it All

By Russell Simmons

Russell Simmons knows firsthand that wealth is rooted in much more than the stock  market. True wealth has more to do with what's in your heart than what's in your wallet. Using this knowledge, Simmons became one of America's shrewdest entrepreneurs, achieving a level of success that most investors only dream about. No matter how much material gain he accumulated, he never stopped lending a hand to those less fortunate. In Super Rich, Simmons uses his rare blend of spiritual savvy and street-smart wisdom to offer a new definition of wealth-and share timeless principles for developing an unshakable sense of self that can weather any financial storm. As Simmons says, "Happy can make you money, but money can't make you happy."

*   *   *   *   *

The New Jim Crow

Mass Incarceration in the Age of Colorblindness

By Michele Alexander

Contrary to the rosy picture of race embodied in Barack Obama's political success and Oprah Winfrey's financial success, legal scholar Alexander argues vigorously and persuasively that [w]e have not ended racial caste in America; we have merely redesigned it. Jim Crow and legal racial segregation has been replaced by mass incarceration as a system of social control (More African Americans are under correctional control today... than were enslaved in 1850). Alexander reviews American racial history from the colonies to the Clinton administration, delineating its transformation into the war on drugs. She offers an acute analysis of the effect of this mass incarceration upon former inmates who will be discriminated against, legally, for the rest of their lives, denied employment, housing, education, and public benefits. Most provocatively, she reveals how both the move toward colorblindness and affirmative action may blur our vision of injustice: most Americans know and don't know the truth about mass incarceration—but her carefully researched, deeply engaging, and thoroughly readable book should change that.—Publishers Weekly

*   *   *   *   *

The White Masters of the World

From The World and Africa, 1965

By W. E. B. Du Bois

W. E. B. Du Bois’ Arraignment and Indictment of White Civilization (Fletcher)

*   *   *   *   *

Ancient African Nations

*   *   *   *   *

If you like this page consider making a donation

online through PayPal

*   *   *   *   *

Negro Digest / Black World

Browse all issues


1950        1960        1965        1970        1975        1980        1985        1990        1995        2000 ____ 2005        

Enjoy!

*   *   *   *   *

The Death of Emmett Till by Bob Dylan  The Lonesome Death of Hattie Carroll  Only a Pawn in Their Game

Rev. Jesse Lee Peterson Thanks America for Slavery / George Jackson  / Hurricane Carter

*   *   *   *   *

The Journal of Negro History issues at Project Gutenberg

The Haitian Declaration of Independence 1804  / January 1, 1804 -- The Founding of Haiti 

*   *   *   *   *

*   *   *   *   *

ChickenBones Store (Books, DVDs, Music, and more)

 

 

 

 

 

 

update 23 March 2012

 

 

 

Home  Yusef Komunyakaa Table

Related files: Letter to Bob Kaufman  Bob Kaufman Bio   Would You Wear My Eyes  Trayvon Martin Murdered by Wannabe Cop