Monday, December 28, 2015


P H I L I P     W H A L E N

You will want the Philip Whalen biography. 
It is a gnarly book in that it goes round and round in interesting ways, 
often through friendships, quite unusual in this day and age of publishing. 
First Ginsberg, then Kerouac, and then taking off like a rocket
with Snyder
and leveling off mysteriously & sweetly with Kyger, 
while sharing birthdays with McClure (and Rimbaud!)
and all the friends, each and every one
claim they never saw Philip with 
a love interest. 
The gods could have told them that.
 Look at the full Collected Poems if you want to see his love interest. 
Long before a Buddhist,
Whalen, like Kerouac, were human beings. 
They didn’t actually waste their time on the Buddhist stuff, 
they just never needed it in the first place.
So the book reads less as a biography and more like an autobiography— 
Philip’s — the one he didn’t write. 
He wrote love poems. 
He wrote On Bear’s Head
The book that must be in every poetry library if one wishes to claim it is a poetry library. 

[ BA ]

Counterpoint, 2015