Kenneth Lloyd McLaren

Yes with Variations Cover and Back

Front cover of Yes With Variations by Ken McLaren with foreward by William Packard

Yes with Variations Cover and Back

Back cover of Yes With Variations with comments from noteable poets including Langston Hughes and Allen Ginsberg

   Hofstra University's Rare Books and Manuscripts Collection description of Kenneth Lloyd McLaren’s poetry states, “His poems were written over a period of some 40-odd years and were based on love, sex, kindness, friendship, minorities, poems on poetry itself, and poems on the significance of having a happy attitude towards oneself and the rest of the world.” 

     Kenneth Lloyd McLaren was born on January 13, 1917 in Berkley, California. He attended college at the University of California at Berkley. He moved to New York City in 1944 where he wrote a plethora of poems on pieces of papers and in various little notebooks.  He was very involved in the Civil Rights Movement and wrote extensively about his reactions to events during this time period.  Ken saw himself as a “voice for the voiceless,” so he would often do poetry readings for causes like the peace movement or gay liberation.  He also drew pictures within his words to display his emotions.  He longed for a world that was happy.  Unfortunately, he passed away from a brain hemorrhage in his apartment in June of 1979 at the age of 62.  He left behind all of his unpublished poems that his friends urged him to sort through for years.

    In 1983, his friend William Packard published a collection of Ken’s writings in the hope of giving the world “the first real collection of Ken McLaren’s poems to be published.”  He ends his introduction to Yes With Variations by stating, “…it’s too bad that Ken won’t be able to hold the book in his own hands and then go reading through it and then chuckle amiably about how some things do work out okay in this world after all.”  This collection gives further insight into how many people enjoyed Ken's outlook on life.  Packard even printed other contemporary poets' perspectives of Ken on the back of this collection.  Thus, hopefully the images below give insight on Ken McLaren as a person and a poet to show the mark he and his poetry left on the world before he passed away.

 

Hofstra Special Collections
Poets
Kenneth Lloyd McLaren