Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Three Poems by Weldon Kees

Video and text courtesy of PoemsBeingRead

Weldon Kees 1914-1955

Poet, writer, film maker, photographer, artist, musician, composer, in his short life, Weldon Kees was all of these.

During the days leading up to that foggy San Fransisco day July 18, 1955, Weldon Kees had been talking about going to Mexico to start a new life. On July 19, The highway patrol found his keys in the ignition of his Plymouth Savoy where it was parked on the north side of the Golden Gate Bridge. His cat Lonesome was found in his apartment. Missing were his sleeping bag and his savings bank book with an $800 balance. The money was never withdrawn from the account. In Vanished Act: The Life and Art of Weldon Kees, biographer James Reidel mentions a childhood friend's report that she had seen Kees in New Orleans in 1962 with a blond on his arm.

Weldon Kees was born February 24, 1914 in Beatrice Nebraska, As a boy, he published his own movie magazine that he filled with facts about film stars as well as poems and stories. He went to Doane College, the University of Missouri, and the University of Nebraska where he graduated in 1935.

He began to publish his poetry soon after graduation, first writing for the Federal Writer's Project in Lincoln Nebraska. He moved to Colorado in 1937 and married Ann Swan. They moved to New York in 1943 where he worked for Time magazine and attended parties where he met critics like Lionel Trilling and Edmund Wilson. He also began to paint and show his work alongside Hans Hofman and Willem de Kooning.

In 1950 Kees moved to San Fransisco where he continued to write and paint. There, he also broadcast a weekly radio show Behind the Movie Camera on which Pauline Kael was a regular guest. He played piano with professional jazz groups, and wrote music for the short film Adventures of Jimmy.

On the afternoon of July 18, 1955, Weldon Kees called Pauline Kael and asked her What keeps you going?



Jessie Carty said...

you really have a terrific set of links! Thanks for including me in the poet list :)

Jason Crane said...

Thanks for the link. Here's my contribution to the Weldon Kees story:

Gary Parrish said...

Very nice, Jon Frankel over at Last Bender also contributed this article.

Kees would have been 96 this past February 24.