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William Everson (September 10, 1912 – June 3, 1994), also known as Brother Antoninus, was an American poet of the San Francisco Renaissance and was also a literary critic and small press printer.. American poet of the San Francisco Renaissance; literary critic printer.
Everson was born in Sacramento, California. His Christian Scientist parents, both of whom were printers, raised him on a farm outside the small fruit-growing town of Selma, which is south of Fresno in California's San Joaquin Valley. He played football at Selma High School and attended Fresno State College (later California State University, Fresno).
As a poet, thinker and man
Everson was an influential member of the San Francisco Renaissance in poetry and worked closely with Kenneth Rexroth during this period of his life. Throughout his life, Everson was a devotee of the work and lifestyle of poet Robinson Jeffers. Much of his work as a critic was done on Jeffers's poetry.
Everson registered as an anarchist and a pacifist with his draft board, in compliance with the 1940 draft bill. In 1943, he was sent to a Civilian Public Service (CPS) work camp for conscientious objectors in Oregon. In Camp Angel at Waldport, Oregon, with other poets, artists and actors such asKemper Nomland, William Eshelman, Kermit Sheets, Glen Coffield, George Woodcock and Kenneth Patchen, he founded a fine-arts program in which the CPS men staged plays and poetry-readings and learned the craft of fine printing. During his time as a conscientious objector, Everson completed The Residual Years, a volume of poems that launched him to national fame.
Everson joined the Catholic Church in 1948 and soon became involved with the Catholic Worker Movement in Oakland, California. He took the name "Brother Antoninus" when he joined the Dominican Order in 1951 in Oakland. A colorful literary and counterculture figure, he was subsequently nicknamed the "Beat Friar." He left the Dominicans in 1969 to embrace a growing sexual awakening, and married a woman many years his junior. The 1974 poemMan-Fate explores this transformation. Everson was stricken by Parkinson's Disease in 1972, and its effects on him became a powerful element in his public readings.
Everson spent most of his years living near the central California coast a few miles north of Santa Cruz in a cabin he dubbed "Kingfisher Flat". He was poet-in-residence at the University of California, Santa Cruz during the 1970s and 1980s. There he founded the Lime Kiln Press, a small press through which he printed highly sought-after fine-art editions of his own poetry, as well as of the works of other poets, including Robinson Jeffers and Walt Whitman. His papers are archived at the William Andrews Clark Memorial Library at UCLA and The Bancroft Library at UC Berkeley.
Black Sparrow Press recently released a three-volume series of the collected poems of Everson, the last volume of which was published in 2000.