Bob Kaufman

Bob Kaufman

About Bob Kaufman

Bob Kaufman was an African-American poet born in New Orleans on April 18, 1925 and died in San Francisco on January 12, 1986. Coming from a large and poor family, Bob Kaufman joined the merchant navy at a very young age, which allowed him to satisfy his taste for travel. He was a great beat poet and beatnik surrealist who was inspired by jazz. In France he was known as the Black American Rimbaud.
Returning to the United States, he began studying in New York where he met William S. Burroughs, Allen Ginsberg and Lawrence Ferlinghetti. His work is influenced by jazz and French literature (Camus). Disillusioned with the violence of the world, he sinks into violence and drugs. In 1963, following the assassination of John Fitzgerald Kennedy, Kaufman took a vow of silence. He did not break this vow until 1973. In 1966, publisher Mary Beach found a leather folder containing unpublished poems by Bob Kaufman in a bin in the City Lights bookstore. She then succeeded in convincing Lawrence Ferlinghetti to publish these poems, under the title of Golden Sardine. Following the end of his vow of silence, the volume The Ancient Rain (1981) features new poems. Kaufman died in 1986, in a state of poverty and physical disrepair. Along with other poets (Allen Ginsberg, John Kelly and William Margolis) he was one of the founders of Beatitude Magazine.

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