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The Birth of a Poet: William Everson Centennial
October 20, 2012 @ 9:00 am - 5:00 pm | Kresge Town Hall
Celebrate the centennial anniversary of the birth of one of California’s great treasures, William Everson/Brother Antoninus: teacher, shamanistic poet-in-residence at UCSC from 1970 to 1981, famed hand-press printer, advocate of an erotic, earth-based spirituality and herald of the environmental revolution.
William Everson was born in Sacramento, California in 1912 to Christian Science parents on a farm near Selma in the San Joaquin Valley. During the Depression, he attended Fresno State College, but soon dropped out to devote his life to poetry after discovering the works of Robinson Jeffers. Everson published his first book of verse, We Are the Ravens in 1935. During World War II, he declared himself a conscientious objector and was placed in a series of work camps in the Pacific Northwest, where he first learned the art of handset printing and where he also completed The Residual Years, which brought him national attention. His marriage did not survive the war.
After the war, Everson joined the San Francisco Renaissance movement of poets and anarchists surrounding Kenneth Rexroth. In 1951, following his second failed marriage, he entered the Dominican Order. Donning the traditional Dominican robe and hood, he was a colorful and widely respected figure in the Beat literary movement for nearly two decades. He took the name of Brother Antoninus, under which he became well known. In 1957, after Kenneth Rexroth‘s “San Francisco Letter” appeared in the Evergreen Review, Everson was regarded as one of the San Francisco Renaissance poets (the Beats) and he was tagged with the name of “The Beat Friar”.
In 1969, having fallen in love with his third wife, Susanna Rickson, Everson renounced his Dominican calling. Two years later he took a position at UCSC, where he taught a popular course called “Birth of a Poet” and founded the University’s Lime Kiln Press. He also established himself as an important literary theorist with the publication of Archetype West: The Pacific Coast as a Literary Region.
In 1991, Everson was honored as Artist of the Year by the Santa Cruz County Arts Commission. (Source: http://www.rooknet.net/beatpage/writers/everson.html)