Phil Whalen: Contribution as American Poet

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      Phil Whalen (1923-2002), was a poet and a novelist. Born in Portland, Oregon, he served in the US air force during World War II before enrolling as a student at Reed College where he roamed with Gary Snyder and Lew Welch. He moved to San Fransisco where he was known as a calming influence on other ‘Beat Poets’ such as Kerouac, Ginsberg, and Gregory Corso. He differed from other ‘Beat poets’ in his self-deprecating humor, scholarly interest, in the intersection of biology and consciousness, aversion to explicit political content and focus on the sacredness of everyday.

      Whalen, had ordained as a Zen Buddhist priest in 1973 and served as Abbot of the Zen Centre, in San Francisco till his death. His main works are Three Satires (1951), Self-Portrait from Another Direction (1960), Memories of an Interglacial Age (1960), Goof Book (1961), Coyote’s Journal (1964), Everyday (1965), High-grade (1966) Severance Pay (1970) Scenes of Life at Capital (1971) The Kinds of Strangers (1976) Decompressions (1978) and Enough Said (1980). His poems dwell in momentary flashes of perception which pass over a perceptive but not deliberative, consciousness. His emphasis on process and ordinary speech is clearly evident.

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