Thom Gunn, 74, Poet Who Left Tradition for the Counterculture, Dies (NY Times):
Thom Gunn, a transplanted British poet identified with the San Francisco scene and the California liberated style, died on Sunday night at his home in San Francisco, his adopted hometown. He was 74.
His death was announced by his companion of 52 years, Mike Kitay.
Acclaimed as one of the most promising young poets of postwar Britain, Mr. Gunn found his own voice after he migrated to California in the 1950's and established himself in San Francisco, his home for the rest of his life. There, he wedded traditional form to unorthodox themes like LSD, panhandling and homosexuality. He experimented with free verse and syllabic stanzas. In doing so he evolved from British tradition and European existentialism to embrace the relaxed ways of the California counterculture.
Thom Gunn (Guardian):
In a poem from his 1982 collection, The Passages of Joy, Thom Gunn delightedly announced: "I like loud music, bars, and boisterous men."
But he immediately provided a characteristically cerebal explanation: these were things "That help me if not lose then leave behind, / What else, the self."
This relationship - balance rather than conflict - between the body's hedonism and the mind's discipline is a central, enduring theme in the work of one of the late twentieth century's finest poets.