Cranial Guitar Themes
by Bob Kaufman

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Themes and Meanings

(Literary Essentials: African American Literature)

Kaufman saluted the heroes of jazz. Kaufman’s poetry features the rhythms, inventions, and surprises of jazz, and like a jazz musician who has a repertoire of melodies to draw from in the midst of improvisation, Kaufman had a repertoire of lines and phrases he called on during performances.

Kaufman also dedicated himself to surrealism. He constantly created absurd combinations that compel readers to reconcile apparent contradictions and envision fantastic scenes. He was associated with Beat writers, such as Jack Kerouac, Allen Ginsberg, and William S. Burroughs, because Kaufman disconnected himself from material pursuits and found his finest expression in public oratory. Distrustful of a society that killed its own citizens and developed atomic weaponry, Kaufman hailed love, art, kindness, and peace. The seeming absurdity of his writing dismantled the seeming sanity of the world as a whole, revealing the profound absurdity of human cruelty.