Weldon Kees: From Beatrice To The Blog

by | Jul 27, 2005

Metafilter picked up on a SF Weekly article on writer and artist, Weldon Kees.


During the 1940s and ’50s, Kees was a moderately famous artist, known mostly for his poetry, who quit the New York literary scene in 1951 and moved to the Bay Area, where he played piano in San Francisco jazz bars, wrote newsreel scripts, and produced a North Beach poetry and music revue before disappearing in an apparent Golden Gate Bridge suicide 50 years ago this past July 18.

One of Kees biggest fans is none other than Dana Goia—music critic emeritus of San Francisco magazine, former General Foods marketing vice president, opera librettist, laureled poet, translator of Latin, Italian, German, and Romanian literature, university instructor, widely published literary essayist, and current president of the National Endowment for the Arts. Gioia has published essays on Kees, edited books on and by Kees, written poems fashioned after Kees’ style, and discussed Kees at symposiums, in classrooms, and with journalists.

by Weldon Kees

The porchlight coming on again,
Early November, the dead leaves
Raked in piles, the wicker swing
Creaking. Across the lots
A phonograph is playing Ja-Da.

An orange moon. I see the lives
Of neighbors, mapped and marred
Like all the wars ahead, and R.
Insane, B. with his throat cut,
Fifteen years from now, in Omaha.

I did not know them then.
My airedale scratches at the door.
And I am back from seeing Milton Sills
And Doris Kenyon. Twelve years old.
The porchlight coming on again.

Of course, I was interested to note to that Kees is another in a long line of famous writers from my home state, Nebraska. Kees is a native of Beatrice, atttended Doane College and graduated from Univ. of Nebraska at Lincoln.

University of Nebraska Press has been instrumental in collecting and distributing Kees’ work and keeping his flame alive for future generations.