Considered a major poet of the ‘San Francisco Renaissance’, Joanne Kyger was born in Year of the Dog in Vallejo, California. In 1957, after studying in Santa Barbara, she moved to San Francisco where she became a member of the circle of poets around Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan, and in 1965 she published her first book, The Tapestry and the Web. Since then, she has remained a significant though somewhat overlooked poet writing in a uniquely American vernacular.
I find myself returning to Kyger’s work all the time – the large volume that gathers her poems into a single volume, published in 2007 by the National Poetry Foundation, titled About Now: Collected Poems. And her most recent collection On Time: Poems 2005-2014, published by City Lights in 2016.
Visually and aurally shapely, her lines mix tone and mood as they muse, inform, and record; see her poem ‘Drop Stitch for a Chat’, for example:
I leave you, Dear Reader, with a poem of hers that I read this morning in Toronto, the day after Winter Solstice 2016, a Kyger poem that serves as sustenance and metaphoric warning against participating in implicated compliance.