Cranial Guitar

Poetry by Bob Kaufman

February 1, 1996 • 6 x 9 • 192 pages • 978-1-56689-038-0

Combining street wisdom with insights from art and history, blending high and popular culture, Kaufman’s poetry reflects a singular wit and lyricism that has earned him the respect of poets and readers worldwide. Cranial Guitar, the only major collection available of the late Bob Kaufman’s classic works, contains selections from The Ancient Rain, Solitudes Crowded with Loneliness, the entire text of the long-out-of-print Golden Sardine, as well as poems that have never appeared in book form including the last one Kaufman wrote before his death in 1986.


“Ravaged by the random sufferings of the American street and warmed by the casual glance of Eros, cool in its quiet truth to consciousness and wild in its classic command of poetic phrases and tuning, this is work that echoes an unlikely range of American songsmiths from Billie Holiday and Charlie Parker to T.S. Eliot and Hart Crane.” —Tom Clark, San Francisco Chronicle Book Review

“Bob Kaufman’s life as a poet is unique to American literature. He kept no diary or journal, published no literary essays, wrote no reviews, and maintained no correspondences. . . . Yet the various schools of American poetry have sung his praises. Recognized early on as a major figure in the Beat Generation of writers and poets, Kaufman is also known as one of America’s true surrealist poets, a premier jazz poet, and a major poet of the black consciousness movement. So much did he embody a French tradition of the poet as outsider, madman, and outcast, that in France, Kaufman was called the Black Rimbaud.” —David Henderson, from the introduction