Kees, Weldon, 1914-1955?

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Weldon Kees was born in Beatrice NE in 1914. He attended Doane College in Crete, NE and the University of Missouri. Known mainly as a poet, Kees also published short stories and wrote for Time magazine and Paramount's newsreel service. In the 1940's he took up painting and was involved in the establishment of the Abstract Expressionist movement. In 1950 he moved to San Francisco and began collaborating on songs with Robert Helms. He disappeared in July, 1954.

From the description of Kees-Helm sheet music collection. (University of Nebraska - Lincoln). WorldCat record id: 60337806

Poet, painter, critic, musician in New York and San Francisco.

From the description of Weldon Kees papers, 1941-1986. (Columbia University In the City of New York). WorldCat record id: 506124162

Epithet: writer and artist

British Library Archives and Manuscripts Catalogue : Person : Description : ark:/81055/vdc_100000000758.0x0002fa

Weldon Kees was born in Beatrice, Nebraska, on 24 February 1914 to John and Sarah Kees. After high school he attended Doane College and the University of Missouri - Columbia, though in 1935 he received his degree from the University of Nebraska. For a short period after he graduated from the University, he worked on the Federal Writers Project in Lincoln, Nebraska. In 1937 he moved to Denver, Colorado, and worked as a librarian and the Director of the Bibliographic Center. From 1943 until 1949 Kees lived in New York City and in 1950 relocated to San Francisco. Kees is presumed to have committed suicide in the summer of 1955. His car was found abandoned at the Golden Gate Bridge in San Francisco, California, on 18 July 1955.

Kees' creative energy led him in many directions including poetry, artwork, music, playwriting, photography, and filmmaking. Kees' first book of poetry, The Last Man, was published by The Colt Press in 1943. His second collection of poetry The Fall of Magicians was published in 1947 by Reynal and Hitchcock. In New York, Kees' creative energy shifted from poetry to painting. His abstract paintings were shown at two one-man shows at the Peridot Gallery in New York, owned by Lou Pollack. Kees earned money writing reviews for Time magazine, writing scripts for wartime newsreels, and writing art criticism for The Nation.

In 1953, Kees met jazz clarinetist Bob Helm, who played with Turk Murphy's Jazz Band. Kees and Helm collaborated on creating blues, rags, and music in the New Orleans jazz style. During this time Kees also sought creative outlets through a series of productions known as the Poets' Follies. The Follies showcased poets, musicians, and actors and allowed Kees to showcase some of his own talent. The last Poets' Follies took place in 1958 after Kees' death.

Helm was a member of Lu Watters' Yerba Buena Jazz Band. Helm's early recordings include Bob Helm's Riverside Roustabouts (1954) and San Franciso Style (1956). Many years later, in 1998, he recorded Hotter Than That with the Bob Helm Jazz Band . He worked with Carol Leigh to record Bob Helm and Miss Carol Leigh's Blues and Jazz Review Ma'N Bessie Blues and Jazz Review, Act 1 and Act 2 . Helm died 1 September 2002.

From the guide to the Kees-Helm Sheet Music Collection, 1949-1958

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library) poetry readings, 1931- (ongoing). Woodberry Poetry Room, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, 1932-2005 Houghton Library
creatorOf KEES, WELDON. Artist file : miscellaneous uncataloged material. Museum of Modern Art (MOMA)
referencedIn Colt Press. Colt Press records, 1920-1973. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
creatorOf Kees-Helm Sheet Music Collection, 1949-1958 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library
referencedIn New Yorker records, ca.1924-1984 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Fantasy Magazine papers, 1929-1979 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn McChesney, Mary Fuller. Oral history interview with Mary Fuller McChesney, 1994 Sept. 28. Archives of American Art
referencedIn Furioso papers, 1938-1951. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
referencedIn Fantasy Magazine. Fantasy Magazine papers, 1929-1979. Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Kees, Weldon, b. 1914. Weldon Kees papers, 1941-1986. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Furioso papers, 1938-1951 Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library
creatorOf Rosenberger, Francis Coleman, 1915-. Papers of [Francis] Coleman Rosenberger, 1946-1952. University of Virginia. Library
creatorOf Jordan Davies. Papers, 1979-1987. Washington University in St. Louis, .
creatorOf Vol. XXV. (ff.) Jolas-Kennedy.James Stern, writer: Weldon Kees, writer and artist: Letter to James Stern from Weldon Kees: circa 1947.James Stern, writer: Mary Nesta Keane n e Skrine, writer: Letters to James Stern from Mary Nesta Keane: 1981-1985.... British Library
creatorOf Kees, Weldon, b. 1914. Kees-Helm sheet music collection. University of Nebraska - Lincoln
referencedIn Yaddo records, 1870-1980 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
referencedIn Graywolf Press Archives, 1978-2010 University of Minnesota Libraries. Literary Manuscripts Collection, Manuscripts Division. [mss]
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Cahoon, Herbert, 1918-2000. person
associatedWith Colt Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Fantasy Magazine. corporateBody
associatedWith Fantasy Magazine. corporateBody
associatedWith Farrell, James T. (James Thomas), 1904-1979. person
associatedWith Graywolf Press corporateBody
associatedWith Helm, Bob. person
associatedWith Jordan Davies. corporateBody
associatedWith McChesney, Mary Fuller person
correspondedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
correspondedWith New Yorker Magazine, Inc corporateBody
associatedWith Rosenberger, Francis Coleman, 1915- person
associatedWith Wilson, Adrian. person
associatedWith Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library). corporateBody
associatedWith Yaddo (Artist's colony) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
New York (State)--New York
California--San Francisco
Authors, American--20th century
Artists--United States
Authors, American--Nebraska
Poets, American--20th century
Booksellers and bookselling


Birth 1914-02-24

Death 1955-07-18





Ark ID: w6gn1q7x

SNAC ID: 67821369