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This article is taken from PN Review 253, Volume 46 Number 5, May - June 2020.

About Lew Welch Aram Saroyan
I’m very smart, and over-educated, and so on, but you know – and I can make all kinds of points about that kinda shit – but what I really would like to do is – wouldn’t it be wonderful to write a song or a story that anybody would say at his hearth on any given evening just because he loved the way it went? And that’s what I want to do. And I think that that is what poetry is about.
– Lew Welch, in an interview with David Meltzer, July 17 1969


In the spring of 1976, I visited the offices of KPFA, the listener-sponsored radio station in Berkeley, with Donald Allen, Lew Welch’s literary executor, editor and publisher, who had been asked by the station to help put together a memorial program devoted to Welch to be aired in May, some five years after his disappearance.

While we were there, Eric Bauersfeld, the station’s literary director, played a little of each of the half-a-dozen or so tapes of Welch that were in the station’s archives, and there was one in particular that struck me. It was a tape of Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen and Lew Welch discussing how they got by as poets, recorded at the station with a moderator in the spring of 1964 to promote a reading they were about to give together in San Francisco. We just heard a quick few minutes of the tape, but the idea of these three poets who had known each other since their days together ...


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