“Now’s the Time” listeners know that they get a poem every show at no extra charge.
This month, I’ll be featuring the poetry of the enigmatic Kenneth Patchen. Moreover, I won’t be reading any of the poems myself. (Welcome news to many listeners, I’m sure!) Instead, I’ll play recordings of Patchen himself, sometimes accompanied by musicians. The vast KUSP library includes a 1957 record of Patchen with a jazz sextet led by pianist Allyn Ferguson, as well as a record of Patchen reading a number of his Fables.
I’ll also sample the fantastic record by the Claudia Quintet + 1 entitled What Is The Beautiful? (Cuneiform, 2011), which is built around musical settings of Patchen poetry. Here’s what Claudia Quintet leader and drummer John Hollenbeck has to say about Patchen’s poetry: “He has a wide palette, which I like. There are a lot of really dark, political poems, but then he has whole collections of almost childlike drawings with very short, funny poems. And usually in every collection there are lyrical love poems, always dedicated to his wife, which are more flowery, almost old-fashioned. I really started to love the humor, the darkness, and the sincere love he had for his wife.” The Claudia record features Kurt Elling declaiming and Theo Bleckman singing some of the poems. Elling’s reading of the poem that gives the record its title is an apotheosis of jazz-plus-poetry (hear it on the archived 6 June broadcast while you can).
Here’s a link to Patchen’s bio at the indispensable Poetry Foundation web site. http://www.poetryfoundation.org/bio/kenneth-patchen