If you had teenage angst in the ’60s and ’70s — and who didn’t? — you probably spent time curled up with a Rod McKuen book of poetry or listening to some of his spoken word recordings.
It was deep, or so we thought. It penetrated our teenage souls, soothed our loneliness of break-ups with high-school girlfriends, and made us think that someone got us. It all made so much sense.
It took surviving the teenage years to determine that it was also utter garbage.
He claimed at one point that he was the world’s most widely-read poet, even though critics hated his work.
“What McKuen guarantees is that a certain California sexual daydreaming can be yours for the asking even if you do move your lips rapidly as you read,” Louis Cox wrote in The New Republic in 1971.
McKuen has died of pneumonia. He was 81.