People all over the world can love the poetry of Robert Kaufman. A publisher of his work would need to sell to as large a market as possible within our “peculiar” context—the context that lives and breathes with the word race. So it would be a wise business decision to mention the German-Jewish father of Robert Kaufman and then describe his mother as a Catholic who happens to be of African descent—all living in the butterscotch Creole aesthetic of Louisiana. To show a color photograph of Mr. Kaufman may turn off many buyers—for the wary buyer may think, “Ah, I love Jack Kerouac. I love Allen Ginsburg! But this Kaufman guy just looks like a black guy—and black poetry just does not speak to me.”

The heart breaking tragedy is that Robert Kaufman is arguably an originator of beat poetry and the beat scene. Please let some indignant self-described “white fan” of beat nostalgia tell me that it was a “white guy” who thought of reciting poetry in front of African-descended jazz musicians. Let me know how deep this goes. Moreover, I would argue that much of the depression and disillusionment that haunted Jack Kerouac was due to the fact that he knew this—but only his burdened white face could appear on white television and reap the materialistic rewards of being “hip to the cool.”

So, before we open any intellectual debates, I would let Robert Kaufman speak for himself as a creative force. We have three selections from Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness that clearly show a well-rounded artist, an African-descended innovator with a “universal” appeal.


Written by . . . . . . . Robert Kaufman
HTML/CSS Programming by . . . . . . . Bryan Wilhite