25 Points: Lew Welch

Ring of Bone: Collected Poems
by Lew Welch
City Lights Publishers, 2012
252 pages / $17.95 buy from City Lights

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

1. I’ve been reading Lew Welch for some 20 odd years. First I read Edgar Allen Poe, Allen Ginsberg, Walt Whitman, Hawthorne, Thoreau et al and then I found out about Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, and Lew Welch. (I heard of Philip Whalen too but he took a while longer for me to dig)

2. Welch met Whalen and Snyder when all were students together @ Reed College in Portland, OR on lawns where I once threw a Frisbee (was it?) several years ago with my pal Jeffrey Butler and his son Austin. And then a couple years later went back to see the JESS show. Lately I’ve been avoiding phone calls. I only talk to my mom. I owe Jeffrey Butler up in PDX a good long chat one of these days.

3. When I read Lew Welch I often think about Robinson Jeffers (and vice versa)
“I’m the ghost Roan Stallion” – Lew Welch

4. Both Leos, we’re born August 16th

LEO MENAGERIE

Sunnylyn Thibodeaux, Lew Welch, and me.

5. “You know Lew always CRIES when he reads and it will ruin the evening.”
–Joanne Kyger. http://jacketmagazine.com/27/w-kyge.html

6. David Highsmith gave me a broadside, “Raid Kills Bugs Dead” for my birthday one year. It’s up in our bathroom. This tag-line, ad copy throwaway, now emblazoned in millions of modern day minds, is attributed to Welch from his 9-5 Chicago workadays.

7. Huey Lewis of Huey Lewis and the News is Welch’s step-son. He sang Welch’s “Graffiti” with his mother in the audience @ SF Public Library. Dig it: http://youtu.be/N5diFN_Gpx4

8. Welch walked off with his gun never to be seen again.

9. Tall and lanky with a bursting head of red describes Lew Welch as if he was a good looking woman.

10. Before any poet bothers to write a poem concerning problems of rat infestation they should be familiar with Welch’s “Buddhist Bard Turns Rat Slayer” especially if they consider themselves to be Buddhist and are a “professor” in the Bay Area. Continue reading “25 Points: Lew Welch”

Ring of Bone

Ring of Bone: Collected Poems
by Lew Welch, Ed. Donald Allen
Forword by Gary Snyder
City Lights Publishers, June 2012
252 pages / $17.95  Buy from City Lights

 

 

 

 

 

 
Lew Welch’s collection, Ring of Bone, is more of an artist’s assemblage than a simple book of poems. This new and expanded edition by City Lights Press encompasses Welch’s poetry, music, drawings and critical writings, providing fans with a definitive edition of the poet’s long-lost works, and new readers with an expansive sample of his writing.

As Gary Snyder’s forword tells us, Welch was a little-known 60’s generation poet who was living with Snyder temporarily while building a cabin on Ginsburg’s adjoining land, when, on May 23, 1971, Welch hiked into the Sierra Nevada Mountains carrying a revolver. A suicide note, indicating a deep depression, was all that was ever found, but the mystery of this final day has made Welch somewhat of a cult figure. Fortunately, Ring of Bone, brings together Welch’s unfinished writings, providing readers with a remarkable set of poems without dramatizing the events surrounding Welch’s death.

This newly released collection is arranged into five books and a set of uncollected writings, which follow a loose chronology. However, unlike many collected works, the order of the poems is not the focus. By nature of their visionary quality, these poems form a world of dreams and nightmares so convincingly that strict organization proves ultimately unnecessary. Instead, the poems speak to each other across time through their musical tonalities and recurring thematic tensions, thus constructing one of many “rings” invoked by the book’s title.

Continue reading “Ring of Bone”