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Philip Whalen Main Page

photo by Nancy Davis

DC with and on Philip Whalen

cuke interview with Philip

 a few DC memories of Philip

On seeing the City Center's stone Gandhara Buddha for the first time with Philip

A last visit with Philip

On Philip's Cremation Ceremony - 6/29/02

Comment on Crooked Cucumber by Philip

10-19-13 - Wrote more after reading draft chapter of Crowded by Beauty by David Schneider.

11-14-13 - Invisible Idylls by Philip Whalen released a few months ago by Big Bridge Press

A great page for Philip on the Big Bridge Press site which also published Philip's collected poems.

The fall-winter 2002 Wind Bell has a lot on Philip and his funeral.

A cartoon in summer 2002 Wind Bell attributed to Philip is actually by Stan White. Here it is on Stan's page.

An Hour with Philip Whalen
by Daniel Bouchard

3-22-14 - Shambhala Center Presents Book Reading by David Schneider on Philip Whalen

Crowded by Beauty, The Poetry of Zen Monk Philip Whalen

at the Shambhala Meditation Center of San Francisco
1231 Stevenson Street

Wednesday, March 26, 2014
6:30 – 9 pm

Relevant links on David Schneider cuke page

9-18-10 - Crowded by Beauty; A Biography of Poet and Zen Teacher Philip Whalen, by David Schneider, forthcoming from University of California Press. You can download a chapter at On

David Schneider on Philip Whalen - from his journal

6-06-13 - Philip Whalen overheard dis of Suzuki Shunryu - from Tensho David Schneider

There were so many contributions from Schneider on cuke that we created a cuke page for David Schneider - check it out.

7-09-13 - Philip Whalen poem Hymnus in his own hand

4-15 and 4-27-13 - - Danny Parker relates below

2-18-13 - Dale Smith Reading Philip Whalen - thanks David Silva

12-11-08 - An invitation from Tensho David Schneider to join with him and others who knew Philip Whalen to spend an evening sharing memories of Philip.

5-04-08 - A Report on yesterday's Celebration of Philip Whalen at the SF Public Library

3/22/02 - from Brian Unger

There are many mentions of Philip Whalen on that one can access by using the site search boxes on the What's New and Home pages.

A few links off the web or this site about Philip Whalen

From Wikipedia  More on

Philip Whalen (October 20, 1923 – June 26, 2002) was a poet and a key figure in the San Francisco Renaissance and the Beat generation.

Born in Portland, Oregon, Whalen served in the US Army Air Corps during World War 2. He attended Reed College with Gary Snyder and Lew Welch and graduated with a BA in 1951. He read at the famous Six Gallery reading in 1955 that marked the launch of the West Coast beats into the public eye.

Whalen became a Zen Buddhist monk in 1973, becoming head monk, Dharma Sangha, in Santa Fe, New Mexico in 1984.

His books include Off the Wall: Interviews with Philip Whalen (1978), Enough Said: 1974-1979 (1980), Heavy Breathing: Poems, 1967-1980 (1983) Two Novels (1986), and Canoeing up Cabarga Creek: Buddhist Poems 1955-1986 (1995).

SFZC's sangha-e! in memoriam for Philip

SF Examiner - 6/28/02

New York Times - Sunday, 6/30/02 - by Suzi Winson

A poem by Gene DeSmidt. ZC builder in Oakland

Interview in Poetry Flash by David Meltzer

International Herald Tribune - 6/29/02

San Francisco Chronicle - 6/27/02

AP Breaking News obituary - 6/27/02

Words on Philip's passing - William Benz in Portland

Brian Unger on Philip Whalen - from March Reader's Comments

A note on Philip - from Andrew Main in Santa Fe

Jacket Magazine In Memoriam for Philip Whalen - midway down the page - 13 good links with comments by many fine folks..

Jacket Magazine review of Philip's last book, Overtime: Selected Poems by Philip Whalen. Good photos.

From Literary Kicks 

Philip Whalen's Hat - a poem by Joanne Kyger

Big Bridge Press bio (and the photo from above)

Big Bridge Philip Whalen Bibliography 

The Beat Page - brief bio and four poems.

Good info here and more good links - not sure what it is -

5-11-08 - Miriam Bobkoff emailed in the correct links for her and Miriam Sagan's memories of and in memoriam for Philip Whalen. They're on Santa Poetry Broadside. Here's the in memorium which consists of twelve of Philip's poems, here are the Miriams' memories and here's Anne MacNaughton's.

For more on Philip Whalen on the Internet, just go to Google or your favorite search engine and search away.

Notices at the time of his death

Philip Whalen, our dear friend, fellow student, teacher, Zen priest, poet - October 20, 1923 to June 26, 2002.

Philip’s time of death was June 26 at 5:50 a.m. I'm not sure what he died of and I don't know if anyone is. It may be some sort of blood disease but he seemed to be dying of old age for years - with various complications. Anyway, he remained kind, thoughtful, and whimsical throughout these last years of illness and blindness. - DC

Celebrating the release of The Collected Poems of Philip Whalen - Reed College, March 29th. 2008- thanks, Howie Klein

Philip Whalen Celebration on Saturday, May, 3, 2008.
Locations: Main Library Koret Auditorium
Address: 100 Larkin St. (at Grove) in San Francisco
Library Sponsored Public Program
Event Time: 2 p.m. - 4 p.m.
Read more about it

Thanks David Silva

2-27-05 - Suzi Winson and Michael Rothenberg have co-edited a book published  by Fish Drum called Continuous Flame: A Tribute to Philip Whalen. Check it out here.

8/27/02 - PHILIP WHALEN MEMORIAL READING on Friday August 30, 7:00 pm in San Francisco. 

Donations in memory of Philip Whalen can be sent to Poets In Need Inc. For info write: Lyn Hejinian, Poets In Need, Inc., 2639 Russell St. Berkeley, CA 94705

A memorial service for Philip will be held at Green Gulch Farm in Marin County, CA, at 2:30 on September 1st. 

Green Gulch is located at 1601 Shoreline Hwy (Highway 1) just south of Muir Beach.

Cremation notice

4-15-13 - from Danny Parker

This material also contained in Danny's longer piece - Summer 1974

One day in the morning at Zen Center, I suppose I seemed out of sorts. I was in the hall leading to the dining room, cleaning. I'm not sure how I broadcast my discomfort, but he stopped when he saw me.

"What's up?" Philip asked.

"I had some bad dreams last night," I told him, "they really bothered me."

"Hmmm," he nodded.

"Luckily when I woke up, I realized they weren't real."

"Yes," he gestured, waving his big robe sleeves around the hall, "just like this...." 


More from Danny Parker on Philip

Some of the things Philip Whalen told me have stayed with me for my entire life. I was 21 years old that summer.

One time:  "You'll always have trouble with your patience."  He paused.  "But its a great problem to have."

"How could that be?" I asked him. "I find it annoying.  Isn't zen supposed to help with patience?"

"I think you might become a teacher!" he suddenly announced with glee.

I rolled my eyes.  He was talking crazy.  I didn't had the courage to tell Philip how disappointed I was so far in my experience with Zen so far.  It was a topic I was avoiding most of the summer. I was totally discouraged with practice; no enlightenment. No special experiences; no nothing. Just pain in the zendo and a sleep deprived schedule.

Another time, we were removing nails for hours from boards recovered from a building in Marin county that eventually would be laid down as the new zendo floor at the SFZC. I told Philip that when I was sitting now each morning I was hearing the nails being removed in my head.  I couldn't get rid of the screeching that came from the claw tooth hammers pulling the nails free. It was really irritating.

He shrugged: "I guess you'll just have to do squeaky nail zen."

He was so modest and gentle-- at least with me-- that I never knew he was a famous poet. Not sure how I was that naive, but I didn't know.  He was the head of the SFZC bookstore where I worked in the afternoon at times.

At one point I was reading a few lines from one of the books.  "Oh, so you're buying that book!"

"Oh, no," I said, "I am just looking."

"We don't have any books for looking, just for buying..."

He came over and took the book from my hand, with a smile wrapped it up and wrote out a careful receipt. I thought it was a joke. "Would you like anything else?" he said.  "No," I said, "I didn't want that....I was just looking at it." "You need to go to a library.  We have a book store."

I went back to work. He was the kindest curmudgeonly guy I ever met.  His eyes look strangely huge behind his glasses.

But the largest impression he made was the day I left SFZC at the end of the summer of 1974.  It was one of the most influential conversations of my life. However, that is a longer story which I'll need some more time to write up.

Hope some of this is of interest for you or others.

Danny Parker

10-19-13 - Reading draft of a chapter of David Schneider's upcoming book on Philip Whalen, Crowded by Beauty; A Biography of Poet and Zen Teacher Philip Whalen, forthcoming from University of California Press - did a couple of hours of work on this page for Phillip and wrote the following, some of which repeats what was written before and some which is new. - DC


Philip moved into the Page St. City Center across the hall from me on the 2nd floor early in 1972. Baker caught some flack for moving Philip in ahead of others and explained it by citing Philip's life and study before as giving him seniority. I can't remember when he ordained Philip but it was also ahead of a bunch of others. Philip was so popular though and so wise and knowledgeable that what resentment there was soon faded away. Because I got close to Philip there I went to lunch with him a lot, sometimes with Diane DP and Ginsberg and at least once with both. He and Diane didn't seem to have any problem. Don Allen came by too - and others. I remember the first time walking far off to Polk St. thinking wow I'm with these great poets and will be able to hear what they have to say and then finding that what they had to say was almost entirely gossip about their old friends and such. Philip played his organ with earphones in his room and I do remember Bach and also that when I said something (or wrote it as I was on a 6 mo. vow of noisy silence that year as you'll remember) about the song As Time Goes By he poo pooed it. I felt that he was cynical about romantic love between men and women. I didn't try to play him songs I wrote (I could sing during that noisy silent period) because he had definite taste and no interest in folk, rock, popular music. People said the only woman he ever loved was Joanne Kyger.


The great result of practice for Philip was to ease his fear of death which he didn't hide. I recall him weeping in shosan questioning Baker along those lines. He felt old. Friends said he was an old man when he was young.


One day he said to me that he'd been feeling like a failure till he remembered that he'd published nineteen books.


One day I told Philip I'd been reading about the Muslim mass murder of monks, burning of the library at Nalanda, and destruction of so much great art. He sighed and said, "Oh David, just enough survives." Remembering this always in my archiving work I have made it the official motto of I see it comes up three times in a site search.


Once when I visited him in hospice care at Page St. or in Laguna Honda or maybe at Hartford St - no, it was none of those times - it was on the phone - he said, "I'm dying David." I said, "Philip, you've been dying for years. I don't believe it." "No, this time I'm really dying," he said.