Born Vallejo, CA, 1934
Died 2017, Bolinas, North Coast, CA
“Receiving the award from the Foundation was, for me, an affirmation of my writing, as much as the very welcome award money.”
Joanne Kyger, February 14, 2007
Joanne Kyger was a poet whose work was inspired by Zen Buddhism, Asian studies, the Black Mountain School, and the poetry of the San Francisco Renaissance. She was a member of the community that developed on the west coast as the Beat movement began to wane.
Kyger published more than twenty collections of prose and poetry including The Tapestry and the Web (1965), Just Space (1991), Strange Big Moon: The Japan and India Journals 1960-64 (1981, 2000), Some Life (2000), Again: Poems 1989-2000 (2001), As Ever: Selected Poems 1957-2001 (2002), God Never Dies (2004), and The Distressed Look (2004). Her work Not Veracruz (2007) is a collection of poems written in January through March of 2006. She gathered notes for the work while on a trip to Xalapa, Veracruz, supported by her 2006 FCA grant.
Subsequent to her 2006 Grants to Artists award, Kyger was recognized with a Lifetime Achievement Award from the Small Press Traffic Literary Arts Center.Prior to her 2006 FCA grant, Kyger received a National Poetry Series Award for Selected Poems 1958-1980 in 1982 and a Lifetime Achievement Award from Small Press Traffic Literary Arts Center in 2005. Her work had also been supported by Grants from the Marin Arts Council (1986, 2000).
Kyger studied philosophy and literature at the University of California, Santa Barbara. She taught at Mills College, and was on the faculty of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute in Boulder, Colorado.
The shape of the day, the words of the moment, what's happening around me in the world of interior and exterior space—these are my writing concerns. Living in a semi-rural environment the cast of characters in my poems are often the quail, deer, raccoons, coyote bush, oaks, the ocean, the weather, and a few treasured friends. All are equally valid in the environment of place. Some talk more than others. My attention to writing is a daily practice, which then builds an accumulative narrative of chronology. Which ends up as the story of one's life. An historical sense of “self," breathing and experiencing what is common to every human—the local, the ordinary, the non-motivated sense of just “being." One is also aware of the accumulations of lineage of all those writing persons who have come before and to whom one owes the inheritance of this written moment.