Welch, Lew

Welch, Lew
   A writer who successfully bridged the Beat era of the 1950s and the San Francisco youth counterculture of the late 1960s, Lew Welch left behind a body of work that is among the most precise and beautifully crafted of any poet of his generation. Born in 1926 in Phoenix, Arizona, to an intelligent, often overbearing mother and a freespirited, often absent father, Welch’s childhood was marked by a sense of alienation and detachment. He moved frequently, spending much of his youth in several small towns along the California coastline where he was raised by his mother following his parents’ divorce. After a brief term in the army air corps at the end of World War II, he took advantage of the G.I. Bill and enrolled in college, first at Stockton Junior College in California and in 1948 as an English major at Reed College in Portland, Oregon.
   At Reed, he met and roomed with fellow students gary snyder and philip whalen. The three shared common interests in poetry and Eastern spirituality and formed a lasting friendship that played a significant role in the development of the West Coast Beat movement. While at Reed, Welch published his first poems in the school literary magazine, Janus, and along with Snyder and Whalen, he hosted a campus visit by poet William Carlos Williams. The elder poet encouraged Welch to publish his B.A. thesis on the work of Gertrude Stein and to continue to follow his ambitions as a poet.
   The years after Welch’s graduation from college provided the grist for much of the discontent with urban America that would figure so prominently in the poet’s mature work. In the mid-1950s, as the West Coast was in the midst of a literary renaissance, he moved to Chicago, married, and worked as an advertising writer. (Welch is credited with writing the famous slogan “Raid Kills Bugs Dead.”) He found the job, the marriage, and the city (which he called a “pitiless, unparalleled monstrocity [sic]”) unbearable, a situation that he later captured in one of his finest works, “chicago poem” (1958).
   By 1957 Welch returned to San Francisco where he worked at numerous part time jobs—cab driver, longshoreman, commercial fisherman—to support his career as a writer. He began a serious but short-lived course of Buddhist study with Snyder, and many of his poems from the late 1950s, including his powerful Pacific coast meditation “Wobbly Rock” (1960), draw heavily from Buddhist imagery. He published several small collections of poems in the 1960s, writing with clarity, precision, and an ear for American speech that sometimes escaped his colleagues in the Beat movement. The finest of these small collections, Hermit Poems (1965) chronicles his solitary withdrawal into the California foothills in the early 1960s. During the heyday of the San Francisco counterculture in the late 1960s, Welch was affiliated with members of the Digger commune, an experience that is reflected in many of his later poems and essays.
   Despite growing success and recognition as a poet in the late 1960s, Welch was plagued by a battle with alcohol, and on May 23, 1971, he left behind a cryptic suicide note and wandered into the California foothills, carrying a gun. His body has never been found. His volume of collected poems, Ring of Bone, was published in 1973.
■ Meltzer, David. “Interview with Lew Welch.” San Francisco Beat: Talking with the Poets. San Francisco: City Lights Books, 2001, 294–324.
■ Phillips, Rod. “Forest BeatniksandUrban Thoreaus”: Jack Kerouac, Gary Snyder, Lew Welch, and Michael McClure. New York: Peter Lang, 2000.
■ Saroyan, Aram. Genesis Angels: The Saga of Lew Welch and the Beat Generation. New York: Morrow, 1979.
   Rod Phillips

Encyclopedia of Beat Literature. . 2014.

Игры ⚽ Нужна курсовая?

Look at other dictionaries:

  • Lew Welch — Nom de naissance Lewis Barret Welch Junior Activités poète Naissance 16 août 1926 Phoenix (Arizona) Décès 1971 Nevada City Langue d écriture anglais …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Welch (surname) — Welch is a surname, and may refer to*Adonijah Welch (1821 1889), American politician * Alexander Welch (1873 1962), Canadian politician * Andrew Welch, businessman * Bettina Welch (1922 1993), New Zealand actress * Bo Welch, American film… …   Wikipedia

  • Lew Welch — Lewis Barrett Welch, Jr. (August 16, 1926 May 1971?) is an American poet associated with the Beat generation of poets, artists, and iconoclasts.According to Aram Saroyan who wrote Genesis Angels: The Saga of Lew Welch and the Beat Generation ,… …   Wikipedia

  • Welch — Cette page d’homonymie répertorie les différents sujets et articles partageant un même nom.  Pour les articles homophones, voir Welsh et Welche. Welch peut désigner : Sommaire …   Wikipédia en Français

  • “Chicago Poem” — by Lew Welch (1958)    lew welch’s “Chicago Poem,” perhaps his most famous and most frequently anthologized piece, is an eloquent statement of the poet’s midlife change in direction away from urban, corporate America and toward a more inner… …   Encyclopedia of Beat Literature

  • Gary SNYDER — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Snyder. Gary Sherman Snyder est un poète, traducteur, penseur et activiste américain né le 8 mai 1930 à San Francisco. Il est une figure importante au sein des mouvements de la Beat Generation, des… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Gary Snyder — Pour les articles homonymes, voir Snyder. Gary Sherman Snyder est un poète, traducteur, penseur et militant américain né le 8 mai 1930 à San Francisco. C est une figure importante au sein des mouvements de la Beat Generation, des… …   Wikipédia en Français

  • Beat Generation — The Beat Generation is a term used to describe both a group of American writers who came to prominence in the late 1950s and early 1960s, and the cultural phenomena that they wrote about and inspired (later sometimes called beatniks ): a… …   Wikipedia

  • Уэлч, Лью — Лью Уэлч Lew Welch Имя при рождении: Lewis Barret Welch Дата рождения: 16 августа 1926(1926 08 16) Место рождения: Соединённые Штаты Америки, Финикс …   Википедия

  • Ron Paul — This article is about the man and his life in general. For details and news related to his ongoing 2012 presidential campaign, see Ron Paul presidential campaign, 2012. Ron Paul …   Wikipedia

Share the article and excerpts

Direct link
Do a right-click on the link above
and select “Copy Link”