Kenneth Patchen, one of the 20th century’s leading experimentalists, gained widespread attention and notoriety through such books as The Journal of Albion Moonlight (1941). His readings of poetry with jazz were a phenomenon in the 1950s. Almost 40 years after his death, Patchen’s works continue to intrigue and inspire lovers of modern literature and art worldwide.
Patchen, born in 1911 in the Ohio steel-mill town of Niles, lived and wrote mainly on the East Coast until 1950, when he and his wife, Miriam, moved to San Francisco. Living in North Beach, he created his well-known “painted books” and performed poetry-jazz in the City’s avant-garde clubs. A crippling back injury restricted his activities in the late 1950s; the Patchens moved to Palo Alto, where he continued to write and paint until his death at age 61.