One of the major poets of the San Francisco Renaissance, Joanne Kyger was born in 1934 in Vallejo, CA. After studying at UC Santa Barbara, she moved to San Francisco in 1957, where she became a member of the circle of poets centered around Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan. In 1960, she joined Gary Snyder in Japan and soon traveled to India where, along with Allen Ginsberg and Peter Orlovsky, they met the Dalai Lama—all experiences she has written extensively about. She returned to California in 1964 and published her first book, The Tapestry and the Web, in 1965. In 1969, she settled on the coast north of San Francisco. She has published over 30 books of poetry and prose, including The Japan and India Journals: 1960-1964 (2015), On Time: Poems 2005-2014 (2015), As Ever: Selected Poems (2002), and About Now: Collected Poems (2007), which won the 2008 Josephine Miles Award from PEN Oakland. She taught at Naropa University, The New College of California, and Mills College. In 2006 she was awarded a grant from the Foundation for Contemporary Arts. She passed away in March 2017.
ReviewsKyger’s aesthetics have been strongly influenced by her affiliation with poets of the Beat generation. How does the Beat tradition play out in the new century? Not through nostalgia or stylistic memorabilia, but an adherence to ethics of resistance, set in motion by Kyger and the poets whose circle she was part of.
Kyger never lacks for source material—"‘Everything’ is poetry, animated, kicking its heels.”
Kyger beautifully observes her life and times. She's realistic, yet graceful and good-willed, annotating herself, her friends and acquaintances, while definitely saying no to Sartre's dictum, ‘hell is other people.’
Reviews of books by Joanne Kyger
There You Are: Interviews, Journals, and Ephemera
To Rearrange the World: A discussion of Philip Whalen’s “Life at Bolinas. The Last of California.” PoemTalk #110 in Jacket2: