Like his college roommate Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen took both poetry and Zen seriously. He became friends with Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, and Michael McClure, and played a key role in the explosive poetic revolution of the '50s and '60s. Celebrated for his wisdom and good humor, Whalen transformed the poem for a generation. His writing, taken as a whole, forms a monumental stream of consciousness (or, as Whalen calls it, "continuous nerve movie") of a wild, deeply read, and fiercely independent American—one who refuses to belong, who celebrates and glorifies the small beauties to be found everywhere he looks. This long-awaited Selected Poems is a welcome opportunity to hear his influential voice again.
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Philip Whalen spent fifteen years of formal Zen training in Santa Fe and San Francisco. He is currently the Abbot of Hartford Street Zen Center in San Francisco.Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.:
Hymnus Ad Patrem Sinensis
I praise those ancient Chinamen
Who left me a few words,
Usually a pointless joke or a silly question
A line of poetry drunkenly scrawled on the margin of a quick
splashed picture--bug, leaf,
caricature of Teacher
on paper held together now by little more than ink
& their own strength brushed momentarily over it
Their world & several others since
Gone to hell in a handbasket, they knew it--
Cheered as it whizzed by--
& conked out among the busted spring rain cherryblossom winejars
Happy to have saved us all
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