Lew Welch


until that kind of writing has been written. . .

from How I Work as a Poet

to Dorothy Brownfield, 28 September 1949

to Dorothy Brownfield, et al, 4 November 1950

to Philip Whalen, 7 July 1957

to Donald Allen, 18 December 1959

to Charles Olson, 9 August 1960

to Larry Eigner, 7 September 1961

draft of a letter to Robert Duncan, July 1962

to James Schevill, 16 October 1966

to Robert D. Wilder, 19 June 1969

from How I Read Gertrude Stein



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To Robert D. Wilder, Headmaster, the Urban School of San Francisco,
from 52 Buckelew Street, Marin City,
19 June 1969

Dear Mr. Wilder,    I enclose my signed contract, course description, and resume.

Let me congratulate you and your school for the first sane contract I have ever seen. When I taught one semester at College of Marin I had to fill out a form which had, among others, a question which went "have you ever suffered from undue worry or fear?" They also made me promise I wouldn't burn flags, politicians, draft cards, or money.

I also enclose a ticket to a major public reading to be held on June 30, as per the ticket. I'd be very pleased if you and your friends could come to hear us. The cause is righteous. Further, you might want to see, in action, what kind of nut you have hired.

I can't tell you how delighted I am to join your school. Until, hopefully, June 30th        Lew Welch



Creative Writing Instructor: Lew Welch

The nature and usage of American English will be studied with especial emphasis on daily speech, the source language we use on our streets and in our homes. The best writing has always been written in this living tongue, it has never come from libraries dictionaries, grammar books and the like, for these last are long after the fact. While examples from great American writers will be studied, the art of listening to contemporary speech and then using it will be the heart of the course. Call it ear training.

Grammar and usage will be looked at in the modern manner of structural linguistics  — a lively new approach to the real problem of verbal communication, not just a bunch of rules. The history of our language will be studied to show how languages constantly change in uncontrollable, almost organic, ways.

Creative writing is seen as the art of transforming thoughts and observations into words. Poetry, Plays, Novels, Songs, Essays, all will be called "Writing." The student is encouraged to find his own range of writing, he will not be bogged down by arguments about genre, style, existing forms, rules and so forth. You cannot analyze writing until that kind of writing has been written.

Frequent field trips will be taken into the City's parks, bus stations, and streets, where the students will practice observing as writers do, and listening as writers listen. From these notes and visions will come the stuff of written exercises.

The Instructor
Lew Welch is one of the strongest of the poets identified with the "Beat Generation" of the early 1950s. His popularity has spanned 2 generations at least, and he now speaks both to the new generation of young, active students, and to the older academic world of liberal scholars and professors.

He has published 4 books and appears in countless journals of the avant-garde "little magazine" world. In spring of 1970 his first major collection, Ring of Bone, Poems 1950 to 1970 will appear from Grove Press. He appears in many textbooks and anthologies of modern verse here and in Britain, and has been translated into Italian and Spanish.

He is noted for powerful performances of his work, standing high among those who have recently established the art of Poetry Reading as perhaps the most exciting verbal theater in America today.

A graduate of Reed College in 1950, he studied more than 3 years in the graduate school of the University of Chicago, majoring in structural linguistics, philosophy, and history.

He teaches the Poetry Workshop for the University of California Extension, a position he has held for 5 years, and is the frequent guest lecturer and visiting Poet at special university programs all over the United States and Canada.