Kenneth Patchen was born in Niles, Ohio in 1911. His lifelong romance with writing began at 12 when he started keeping a diary and reading the works of famous writers. His first published work was in his high school newspaper. After working two years with his father, Patchen went on to college in Alexander Meiklejohn’s Experimental College for one year, then to the University of Wisconsin. He grew bored with his studies and began to wander around the U.S. He continued writing and married Miriam Oikemus, his lifelong love, in 1934. Mr. Patchen tragically dislocated a disk in his spine, an incessantly painful injury, which he lived with for nearly many years before seeking treatment. He died in 1972.
Over the course of his career, which included about 40 books, Patchen wrote poetry, drama, prose, poetry combined with jazz, and anti-novels (Sartre’s term for fiction that broke the rules for conventional novels). He published self-illustrated writings; in his own words, they were called “painted books.” Henry Miller called Patchen, “The Man of Anger and Light.” Patchen’s poetry on the atrocities of war is especially memorable, but his love poems are the favorites of many. Most are here, in Awash with Roses.