The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978. Bob Kaufman.
The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978
The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978

The Ancient Rain: Poems 1956-1978

New York, NY: New Directions, 1981. First Edition. Softcover. “‘I want to be anonymous,’ Bob Kaufman said one rainy night in a San Francisco saloon. I had sought out the reclusive and uncommunicative poet for nearly a year before he appeared suddenly in a café and took me by the arm to a deserted Chinatown bar. Alone together, his pronouncements were extreme and final. ‘I don’t know how you get involved with uninvolvement (sic), but I don’t want to be involved. My ambition is to be completely forgotten.’ / … / So absolute was Kaufman’s dedication to the oral and automatic sources of poetry, it was only at the insistence of his wife, Eileen, that he began to write down his work. With one exception, the earliest surviving poem in this volume dates from the night of their first meeting in 1957. Their life in San Francisco’s North Beach centered on the Co-Existence Bagel Shop, where he held court. / … / Kaufman left San Francisco for New York in the spring of 1960. He had been invited to read at Harvard University and was to begin work on his first book, “Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness.” (New York, NY: New Directions, 1965) [See TMB Item #4801]. But the New York years were filled with poverty, addiction, and imprisonment. “Blood Fell on the Mountains,” composed upon his return to San Francisco in 1963, portrays his sorrow and disillusionment…Three days later, Kaufman took a ten-year Buddhist vow of silence, prompted by the assassination of President Kennedy. / … / Kaufman broke his silence on the day the Vietnam War ended. He stunned a local gathering one evening by reciting Thomas Becket’s speech from T.S. Eliot’s ‘Murder in the Cathedral.’ During the next five years, Kaufman composed some of the finest poems of his career—simple, lofty, and resplendent. In 1978, Kaufman abruptly renounced writing and withdrew once again into silence. This book comprises the uncollected poems of Bob Kaufman. In the end, it received the poet’s blessings.” (from Introduction by Raymond Foye). Other than the recently-released “Collected Poems of Bob Kaufman,” this is the definitive assemblage of Kaufman’s poetry. For those interested in Kaufman, we additionally recommend Third Mind Books’ own definitive history of Beat-literary California in the 1970s, “Starting from San Francisco: Thomas Rain Crowe in Conversation with Third Mind Books.” [See TMB Item #3075 & #3071]. The never-before-told stories of Bob we were able to get out of poet-publisher-organizer Thomas Rain Crowe—who knew Kaufman intimately during the 1970s in San Francisco—are worth the price of admission alone. Crowe was actually present at the moment Kaufman “broke his silence,” — just one of many powerful anecdotes in our history of that time and place. Trade-format softcover, a First Edition with no reference to further editions or printings on copyright page. [ISBN: 0-8112-0801-X]. From the collection of the late Erin Black Matson, an artist-poet who, along with her then-husband the acclaimed poet & educator Clive Matson, was a member of the Beat Generation as it morphed into the hippie counterculture during the 1960s. The Matsons were colleagues & protégés (in lifestyle as well as literature) of Herbert Huncke, Bonnie & Ray Bremser, Diane di Prima et al. Book in near fine condition with only moderate shelf-wear, tiny exhibits of bumping to all fine-edges & corners; minute-to-moderate rubbing & tiny, select nick-indentations to front, back covers; since-flattened bump-crease to bottom right-hand corner of front cover; small spot near bottom right-hand corner of back cover; former bookseller’s price sticker center-middle of same (from none other than the legendary Shakespeare & Co. Booksellers in Paris, France!). Near Fine. [Item #4824]

Price: $20.00