Joanne Kyger’s poetry had hints of Zen Buddhism, Black Mountain, San Francisco Renaissance, and Beat poetry. Even with her diverse set of influences, she is most often associated with poets of the San Francisco Renaissance and the Beat movement.
Joanne Kyger was born on November 19, 1934. She studied at the University of Columbia and almost got her degree, but instead she moved to San Francisco in 1957. Once in San Francisco she moved into a communal housing establishment for students of Zen Buddhism and Asian studies. Not long after moving to San Francisco Kyger became involved with the poetry scene around Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan. These two poets were best known for their involvement with the San Francisco Renaissance. In 1958 Joanne met Gary Snyder. In 1960 she went to Japan with him, and on February 28, 1960 the two married. She travelled to India with Gary Snyder, Allen Ginsberg, and Peter Orlovsky. Ginsberg and her husband were both Beat poets. In 1965 Joanne Kyger and her husband Gary Snyder got divorced after being separated for a few years. Later in 1965 Joanne Kyger married Jack Boyce, the two separated in the early 70’s.
The Newton Gresham Library has a few of her poems in SHSU Special Collections Wild Dog collection. Places to go and Stump Island, along with Kora Grown Old, a poem dedicated to Kyger, can be found in Series one, Subseries 1, Box 1, Folder 44 of the collection. Places to go can also be found with the manuscripts in Series two, Subseries 1, Box 5, Folder 18, and as the final version in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 9, Folder 4. She come up can be found in Series 2, Subseries 4, Box 9, Folder 4. Joanne Kyger still writes some today. In addition, she also teaches at the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics on occasion.
To view and read poems by Joanne Kyger and The Wild Dog Papers visit Newton Gresham Library’s Special Collections on the fourth floor of the Library.