The recent experiments in the new poetry-and-jazz movement seen by some as part of the `` San Francisco Renaissance '' have been as popular as they are notorious .
`` It might well start a craze like swallowing goldfish or pee-wee golf '' , wrote Kenneth Rexroth in an explanatory note in the Evergreen Review , and he may have been right .
Under the general heading `` poetry-and-jazz '' widely divergent experiments have been carried out .
Lawrence Ferlenghetti and Bruce Lippincott have concentrated on writing a new poetry for reading with jazz that is very closely related to both the musical forms of jazz , and the vocabulary of the musician .
Even musicians themselves have taken to writing poetry .
( Judy Tristano now has poems as well as ballads written for her .
But the best known exploiters of the new medium are Kenneth Rexroth and Kenneth Patchen .
Rexroth and Patchen are far apart musically and poetically in their experiments .
Rexroth is a longtime jazz buff , a name-dropper of jazz heroes , and a student of traditional as well as modern jazz .
In San Francisco he has worked with Brew Moore , Charlie Mingus , and other `` swinging '' musicians of secure reputation , thus placing himself within established jazz traditions , in addition to being a part of the San Francisco `` School '' .
Although Patchen has given previous evidence of an interest in jazz , the musical group that he works with , the Chamber Jazz Sextet , is often ignored by jazz critics .
( Downbeat did not mention the Los Angeles appearance of Patchen and the Sextet , although the engagement lasted over two months .
) The stated goal of the CJS is the synthesis of jazz and `` serious '' music .
Patchen's musicians are outsiders in established jazz circles , and Patchen himself has remained outside the San Francisco poetry group , maintaining a self-imposed isolation , even though his conversion to poetry-and-jazz is not as extreme or as sudden as it may first appear .
He had read his poetry with musicians as early as 1951 , and his entire career has been characterized by radical experiments with the form and presentation of his poetry .
However , his subject matter and basic themes have remained surprisingly consistent , and these , together with certain key poetic images , may be traced through all his work , including the new jazz experiments .
From the beginning of his career , Patchen has adopted an anti-intellectual approach to poetry .
His first book , Before The Brave ( 1936 ) , is a collection of poems that are almost all Communistic , but after publication of this book he rejected Communism , and advocated a pacifistic anarchy , though retaining his revolutionary idiom .
He spoke for a `` proletariat '' that included `` all the lost and sick and hunted of the earth '' .
Patchen believes that the world is being destroyed by power-hungry and money-hungry people .
Running counter to the destroying forces in the world are all the virtues that are innate in man , the capacity for love and brotherhood , the ability to appreciate beauty .
Beauty as well as love is redemptive , and Patchen preaches a kind of moral salvation .
This salvation does not take the form of a Christian Heaven .
In Patchen's eyes , organized churches are as odious as organized governments , and Christian symbols , having been taken over by the moneyed classes , are now agents of corruption .
Patchen envisions a Dark Kingdom which `` stands above the waters as a sentinel warning man of danger from his own kind '' .
The Dark Kingdom sends Angels of Death and other fateful messengers down to us with stern tenderness .
Actually Heaven and the Dark Kingdom overlap ; ;
they form two aspects of heavenly life after death .
Patchen has almost never used strict poetic forms ; ;
he has experimented instead with personal myth-making .
Much of his earlier work was conceived in terms of a `` pseudo-anthropological '' myth reference , which is concerned with imaginary places and beings described in grandiloquent and travelogue-like language .
These early experiments were evidently not altogether satisfying to Patchen .
Beginning in Cloth Of The Tempest ( 1943 ) he experimented in merging poetry and visual art , using drawings to carry long narrative segments of a story , as in Sleepers Awake , and constructing elaborate `` poems-in-drawing-and-type '' in which it is impossible to distinguish between the `` art '' and the poetry .
Art `` makings '' or pseudo-anthropological myths did not meet all of Patchen's requirements for a poetic frame of reference .
Many of his poems purported to be exactly contemporary and political ; ;
so during the period approximately from 1941 to 1946 , Patchen often used private detective stories as a myth reference , and the `` private eye '' as a myth hero .
Speaking in terms of sociological stereotype , the `` private eye '' might appeal to the poet in search of a myth for many reasons .
The private detective ( at least in the minds of listeners and readers all over the country ) is an individual hero fighting injustice .
He is usually something of an underdog , he must battle the organized police force as well as recognized criminals .
The private detective must rely , as the Youngest Son or Trickster Hero does in primitive myth , on his wits .
The private detective is militant against injustice , a humorous and ironic explorer of the underworld ; ;
most important to Patchen , he was a non-literary hero , and very contemporary .
In 1945 , probably almost every American not only knew who Sam Spade was , but had some kind of emotional feeling about him .
In The Memoirs Of A Shy Pornographer ( 1945 ) Patchen exploited this national sentiment by making his hero , Albert Budd , a private detective .
But since 1945 , Sam Spade has undergone a metamorphosis ; ;
he has become Friday on Dragnet , a mouthpiece of arbitrary police authority .
He has , like so many other secular and religious culture symbols , gone over to the side of the ruling classes .
Obviously , the `` private eye '' can have no more appeal for Patchen .
To fill the job of contemporary hero in 1955 , Patchen needed someone else .
It was logical that he would come up with the figure of the modern jazz musician .
The revolution in jazz that took place around 1949 , the evolution from the `` bebop '' school of Dizzy Gillespie to the `` cool '' sound of Miles Davis and Lennie Tristano , Lee Konitz , and the whole legend of Charlie Parker , had made an impression on many academic and literary men .
The differentiation between the East Coast and West Coast schools of jazz , the differences between the `` hard bop '' school of Rollins , and the `` cerebral '' experiments of Tristano , Konitz and Marsh , the general differences in the mores of white and Negro musicians , all had become fairly well known to certain segments of the public .
The immense amount of interest that the new jazz had for the younger generation must have impressed him , and he began working toward the merger of jazz and poetry , as he had previously attempted the union of graphic art and poetry .
In addition to his experiments in reading poetry to jazz , Patchen is beginning to use the figure of the modern jazz musician as a myth hero in the same way he used the figure of the private detective a decade ago .
In this respect , his approach to poetry-and-jazz is in marked contrast to Kenneth Rexroth's .
Rexroth uses many of his early poems when he reads to jazz , including many of his Chinese and Japanese translations ; ;
he usually draws some kind of comparison with the jazz tradition and the poem he is reading -- for instance , he draws the parallel between a poem he reads about an Oriental courtesan waiting for the man she loves , and who never comes , and the old blues chants of Ma Rainy and other Negro singers -- but usually the comparison is specious .
Rexroth may sometimes achieve an effective juxtaposition , but he rarely makes any effort to capture any jazz `` feeling '' in the text of his poems , relying on his very competent musicians to supply this feeling .
Patchen does read some of his earlier works to music , but he has written an entire book of short poems which seem to be especially suited for reading with jazz .
These new poems have only a few direct references to jazz and jazz musicians , but they show changes in Patchen's approach to his poetry , for he has tried to enter into and understand the emotional attitude of the jazz musician .
It is difficult to draw the line between stereotype and the reality of the jazz musician .
Everyone knows that private detectives in real life are not like Sam Spade and Pat Novak , but the real and the imaginary musician are closely linked .
Seen by the public , the musician is the underdog par excellence .
He is forced to play for little money , and must often take another job to live .
His approach to music is highly individualistic ; ;
the accent is on improvisation rather than arrangements .
While he is worldly , the musician often cultivates public attitudes of childlike astonishment and naivete .
The musician is non-intellectual and non-verbal ; ;
he is far from being a literary hero , yet is a creative artist .
Many of these aspects will be seen as comparable to those of the ideal detective , but where the detective is active and militant , the jazz musician is passive , almost a victim of society .
In order to write with authority either about musicians , or as a musician , Patchen would have to soft pedal his characteristically outspoken anger , and change ( at least for the purposes of this poetry ) from a revolutionary to a victim .
He must become one who knows all about the injustice in the world , but who declines doing anything about it .
This involves a shift in Patchen's attitude and it is a first step toward writing a new jazz poetry .
He has shown considerable ingenuity in adapting his earliest symbols and devices to the new work , and the fact that he has kept a body of constant symbols through all of his experiments gives an unexpected continuity to his poetry .
Perhaps tracing some of these more important symbols through the body of his work will show that Patchen's new poetry is well thought out , and remains within the mainstream of his work , while being suited to a new form .
Henry Miller characterized Patchen as a `` man of anger and light '' .
His revolutionary anger is apparent in most of his early poems .
The following passage from `` The Hangman's Great Hands '' illustrates the directness of this anger .
`` Anger won't help .
I was born angry .
Angry that my father was being burnt alive in the mills ; ;
Angry that none of us knew anything but filth and poverty .
Angry because I was that very one somebody was supposed To be fighting for '' .
This angry and exasperated stance which Patchen has maintained in his poetry for almost fifteen years has been successfully modulated into a kind of woe that is as effective as anger and still expresses his disapproval of the modern world .
In his recent book , Hurray For Anything ( 1957 ) , one of the most important short poems -- and it is the title poem for one of the long jazz arrangements -- is written for recital with jazz .
Although it does not follow the metrical rules for a blues to be sung , the phrases themselves carry a blues feeling .
`` I went to the city And there I did Weep , Men a-crowing like asses , And living like sheep .
Oh , can't hold the han' of my love ! !
Can't hold her little white han' ! !
Yes , I went to the city , And there I did bitterly cry , Men out of touch with the earth , And with never a glance at the sky .
Oh , can't hold the han' of my love ! !
Can't hold her pure little han' ! !
'' Patchen is still the rebel , but he writes in a doleful , mournful tone .
Neither of these poems is an aberration ; ;
each is so typical that it represents a prominent trend in the poet's development .
Patchen is repeatedly preoccupied with death .
In many of his poems , death comes by train : a strongly evocative visual image .
Perhaps Patchen was once involved in a train accident , and this passage from First Will And Testament may have been how the accident appeared to the poet when he first saw it -- if he did : ``
Lord , love us , look at all the disconnected limbs floating hereabouts , like bloody feathers at that -- and all the eyes are talking and all the hair are moving and all the tongue are in all the cheek .