Joanne Kyger died this week, aged 82. Her name may not be all that familiar to most of you, but she was one of the original members of the San Francisco Renaissance beat poetry scene back in the 50's and 60's. One of the only female members among the group that included Robert Duncan, Michael McClure and Jack Spicer and then more well known people to us like Philip Whalen, Alan Ginsburg, and Gary Snyder.
Joanne Kyger and Gary Snyder in fact were married in the early sixties and she lived with him in Japan during the years that he was doing his Zen training there. She came back to the states and settled in San Francisco and Bolinas and became part of that local poetry scene.
In most histories of the day she probably counts as a minor figure. Yet, as a minor figure myself, I feel attention should be paid.
Looking back through her poems, trying to pick one to read to you today, turns out that I think one of her best, perhaps tellingly, is about one of her more famous male friends, Philip Whalen.
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