Kenneth Patchen was an American poet and novelist who experimented with different forms of writing and incorporated painting, drawing, and jazz music into his works. He received an award for life-long contribution to American letters from the National Foundation on the Arts and Humanities.
Patchen was largely self-taught and never seemed to gain widespread recognition from the prominent literary critics or university professors of his generation. He suffered an early tragedy when his younger sister Kathleen was struck and killed by a car in 1926.
Writing in a style often referred to as “jazz poetry,” Patchen struck up a publishing relationship and friendship with James Laughlin, the original publisher of New Directions, in 1936.