Wednesday, October 7, 2009

Paying tribute to William Oliver Everson

On September 17, 2008, William Oliver Everson aka Brother Antoninus, the "Beat Friar", was inducted into the permanent collection of The Beat Museum in San Francisco. This unique museum displays memorabilia from well-known beat legends such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, William S. Burroughs, Neal Cassidy and other prominent beat poets.

A special event was held in William Oliver Everson's honor, featuring testimony by his friends and contemporaries, as well as readings from his poems. Ana Elsner was among the poets and friends who paid tribute to Everson's life and work. Elsner read three of his poems: "O Poets! Shamans of the word!", "The Raid" (1948) and "War Elegy XI" (1943).
An abbreviated biography of William Oliver Everson (1912-1994)

Everson was born in Sacramento, California, of an agnostic Norwegian immigrant bandmaster and printer and a Christian Scientist mother. He was a cannery worker and laborer for the Civilian Conservation Corps from 1932-33 and worked as a farmer in the mid-1930s. After he encountered the poetry of Robinson Jeffers he discovered his own vocation as a poet. As a conscientious objector he was assigned to the forestry service from 1943-46. After WWII he joined the anarcho-pacifist group of poets surrounding Kenneth Rexroth. He became an influential member of the San Francisco Poetry Renaissance and was commonly identified as a Beat poet. In 1951 he joined the Dominican order, was ordained as a Roman Catholic monk and named Brother Antoninus. After leaving the monastery in 1969, he turned his energies toward critical writing, printing, teaching, and editing. During the entire period from 1957 until his death from Parkinson's Disease in 1994, Everson gave countless poetry readings across the United States and Europe and published more than fifty volumes of poetry, prose, autobiographical material and literary criticism.

Among many other poets, Ana Elsner was inspired by Everson's poetic voice. Elsner was honored to have been given the opportunity to be a part of this special tribute.


Related: Click to read about another legend of The Beat Generation, internationally renowned poet, artist and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti


Ana remembers TonyAnother tribute: click to read a poem by Ana Elsner honoring fellow poet Tony Vaughan (1947-2008)


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