Portrait of
a Rebel
General Characteristics / Roles
by Larry Smith, director Bottom Dog Press
BGSU Firelands

American Poet-Fiction
Kenneth Patchen
General Characteristics of the Rebel Poet in America
(Note: None of these are absolute requirements,
but they do represent a composite model)
Has working-class youth by birth or shared experience
Rejects family values of religious rule and quest for wealth
Rebels against Educational and Social Institutions
Seeks well guarded independence, with a strong will, vivid imagination
Is reborn—Finds identity through Writing and Art
Often sees self as a social outsider—observer-critic role
Witnesses social injustices and war
Attains vision that writing and art matter—can change the world
Experiences need to reinvent the language of
expression to fit a broken inner-reality
Creates new forms outside boundaries of poetry
Works to “get the word out”—for self and others:
by writing, printing, and publishing, promoting public
Risks censor— Stretches social norms—Becomes a target
Sacrifices for vision—passionate and engaged
Censorship may come from society (courts)—publishing world—
other groups of writers—
May join with others in revolt:
Bohemians—Leftists—Beats—Underground Mimeograph Revolution
Suffers losses yet persists toward developing a new world order
Some Examples
Zen Rebel Poets: Han-shan (Cold Mountain), Ikkyu (Crazy Cloud), Taigu Ryokan (Great Fool)
William Blake—Oscar Wilde
Charles Baudelaire—
Arthur RimbaudJean Cocteau—Antonin Artaud
Pablo Neruda—Cesaer VallejoBertolt Brecht
French Surrealists—Andre Breton/ Benjamin Peret/ Paul Eluard
*   *   *
Ralph Waldo Emerson—Margaret FullerHenry David Thoreau
Walt WhitmanEmily Dickinson
Kenneth Rexroth—Kenneth Patchen
William Everson
Jack Conroy—Edwin Rolfe
Ezra Pound—
William Carlos Williams
Charles Olsen
Langston Hughes
Meridel Leseur –Muriel Rukeyser—Tillie Olsen
Denise Levertov
June Jordan—Audre Lorde
—Nikki Giovanni
Allen Ginsberg / Lawrence Ferlinghetti / Bob Kaufmann/ Gregory Corso
Michael McClure
—Philip Lamantia—Ted Jones—Charles Bukowski
Gary Snyders
—Diane diPrima—Michael McClure
Hetti Jones & Leroi Jones
(Amiri Baraka)—Anne Waldman—Joanne Kyger
Ted Berrigan—
Daniel Berrigan
Ed Sanders—
d.a.levy—Daniel Thompson—Charlie Potts—Jack Micheline
Others Rebel Spirits: Henry Miller, Alan Watts, Jack Kerouac, Woody Guthrie
Charlie Parker
, John Coltrane, Nina Simone, Billie Holiday, Jackson Pollock
John Lennon, Bob Dylan, Anni DeFranco...
d.a.levy   /    Anne Waldman   /      Ed Sanders
Link To: Places of Kenneth and Miriam Patchen Page
November 2008
[Send other suggestions
Thanks to the
contributions of
Katie Dailey,
Bree, Douglas
Smith Blog
on Rebel
Bottom Dog