With excerpts from Bob Kaufman, Poet, a two-hour radio documentary written and produced by David Henderson with Vic Bedoian as co-producer. The show originally aired on KPFA in 1991; it features recordings of Kaufman (“The Black Rimbaud”) reading as well as commentaries by friends and relatives.
Kaufman, a poet in the oral tradition, usually didn’t write down his poems, and much of his published work survives by way of his wife Eileen, who wrote his poems down as he conceived them.
Ken Kesey describes seeing Bob Kaufman on the streets of San Francisco’s North Beach during a visit to that city with his family in the 1950s:
I can remember driving down to North Beach with my folks and seeing Bob Kaufman out there on the street. I didn’t know he was Bob Kaufman at the time. He had little pieces of Band-Aid tape all over his face, about two inches wide, and little smaller ones like two inches long — and all of them made into crosses. He came up to the cars, and he was babbling poetry into these cars. He came up to the car I was riding in, and my folks, and started jabbering this stuff into the car. I knew that this was exceptional use of the human voice and the human mind.