Ron Whitehead

Ron Whitehead - Spring 2004 - Photo by Jeremy Hogan


is poet, writer, editor, publisher, organizer, scholar,

professor. The son of Edwin and Greta Whitehead, he

grew up on a farm outside of Centertown (population

323) in Ohio County, western Kentucky. He graduated

from Ohio County High School in 1968. He attended

Georgetown College, Western Kentucky University,

The University of Lousville, and Oxford University

(England). As undergraduate and graduate student he

was the recipient of numerous scholarships, grants,

fellowships, awards, and prizes including The Dean's

Graduate School Citation at U of L and The English

Speaking Union's Oxford Scholar Award plus the

Joshua B. Everett Oxford Scholar Award. At Oxford

he studied with Dr. Valentine Cunningham, Head of

English Literature, at Oxford's International Graduate

School. As poet and writer he is the recipient of

numerous state, national, and international

awards/prizes including The All Kentucky Poetry Prize

and The Yeats Club of Oxford's Prize for Poetry. In

2004 he was inducted into Ohio County High School's

Hall of Fame. In 2006 Dr. John Rocco (NYC)

nominated Ron for The Nobel Prize in Literature.

Ron has taught college for 14 years at The University

of Louisville, Spalding University, Jefferson

Community College, St. Catharine College, and

Bellarmine University. He has presented numerous

talks, lectures, and writing workshops around the world

at colleges, universities, and institutions which include

Trinity College (Dublin, Ireland), The University of

Iceland (Reykjavik, Iceland), The University of Braga

(Braga, Portugal), The University of Nijmegen

(Nijmegen, The Netherlands), New York University

(New York, New York), Hofstra University (New

York, New York), University of Louisville (Louisville,

Kentucky), University of New Orleans (New Orleans,

Louisiana), and many more. He has presented papers

and chaired sessions at over 60 national and international Literature, Culture, and Arts Conferences.

In 1992 Ron founded the Global Literary Renaissance,

a non-profit organization, supporting the global literary

community. He was GLR Director for 14 years. Ron

has produced well over 1,000 music and poetry events

throughout Europe and the USA including many 24,

48, 72 & 90 hour Non-Stop Music & Poetry

INSOMNIACATHONs plus he produced The Hunter

S. Thompson Tribute (featuring Hunter, Johnny Depp,

Warren Zevon & many others), the London

International Poetry & Song Festivals (with Richard

Deakin), The New York City Underground Music &

Poetry Festival (with Casey Cyr & others), The

Netherland's 10-day International Meer Dan Woorden

Festival (with Jan Pankow & others) plus many many


Ron has edited nearly 1,000 titles and published over

600 titles including work by His Holiness The Dalai

Lama, President Jimmy Carter, Seamus Heaney, Jack

Kerouac, Diane di Prima, Allen Ginsberg, John

Updike, BONO, Yoko Ono, Andy Warhol, Amiri

Baraka, Rita Dove, David Amram, Thomas Merton,

Wendell Berry, Edvard Munch, Knut Hamsun, William

S. Burroughs, Hunter S. Thompson, Lawrence

Ferlinghetti, Gregory Corso, Herbert Huncke, James

Laughlin, Douglas Brinkley, Lee Ranaldo, Robert

Hunter, Anne Waldman, Ed Sanders, David Minton,

Bob Holman, Cathal O'Searcaigh, Eithne Strong, Theo

Dorgan, Jim Carroll, Casey Cyr, Denis Mahoney,

Frank Messina, Steve Dalachinsky, Jean Genet, Jan

Kerouac, Chris Felver, Brother Patrick Hart, Robert

Lax and many many others. Ron's work has been

exhibited round the world from New York City to

Louisville to New Orleans to San Francisco and from

India to Czech Republic to Italy to Portugal to Ireland

to The Netherlands to Iceland and beyond. The

UN/UNESCO "Poetry On The Peaks" program

selected The Dalai Lama/Ron Whitehead "Never Give

Up" message/poem poster as its theme for 2002. 300

copies were sent to cities and mountain communities

round the world.

For the past 16 years Ron has been GOing non-stop.

He is the author of 17 books and he has work on over

20 CDs.

His titles include WESTERN KENTUCKY: lost &

forgotten, found & remembered (with Sarah Elizabeth),

THE THIRD TESTAMENT: Three Gospels of Peace

(all 3 previously published Hozomeen Press books

revised/edited in one volume with art by Lawrence

Ferlinghetti & David Minton), KENTUCKY SUITE:


(books 1 & 2/new revised 3rd edition), KENTUCKY

ROOTS (CD), KENTUCKY: poems, stories, songs

(CD with Sarah Elizabeth), and KENTUCKY BLUES

(with David Amram,, EVE


Charlie Newman), GROUND ZERO, NOT-

KNOWING (with Libby Ackerman), LOVE and

DEATH (with David Minton), QUEST FOR SELF IN




BOW DOWN (with Icelander Michael Pollock),

EXTERMINATE NOISE (with Charlie Newman),


BEYOND, OFF THE CUFF (with Andy Cook).


OF WATER (with James Walck), THE VIKING



Ron reads his work with musicians from around the

world, in all genres of music, including David Amram,

Iceland's Siguros, Iceland's Michael & Danny Pollock

of The Outsiders, Jim James of My Morning Jacket,

Paul K & The Weathermen, Lee Ranaldo of Sonic

Youth, Frank Messina & Octopoet & Spoken Motion,

James Walck & The Mind2Hands Symphonia, Vassar

Clemens, Tom House, By The Grace of God, R.B.

Morris & Hector Qirko, Black Pig Liberation Front,

Jeremy Podgursky & The Pennies, Blowup in

Japanese, Scaramongo, Sarah Elizabeth, & numerous

others. His groups have included Voices Without

Restraint, Ron Whitehead's Apocalypse Jam, and The

Viking Hillbilly Apocalypse Revue. He and Sarah Elizabeth perform together and tour constantly. Ron's

Published in Heaven CD, CLOSING TIME, and his

Published in Heaven book, THE THIRD

TESTAMENT: Three Gospels of Peace, were

released in 2005. He was recently nominated for the

Nobel Prize in Literature by New York City professor,

James Joyce scholar, and author, of many books, Dr.

John Rocco (see letter below).

To The Nobel Prize Committee,

I am writing you about one of America's greatest

poets. His name is Ron Whitehead and for his entire

career he has written volatile and important verse

that has given a new presence to American poetry.

Whitehead's work is in the tradition of the Beat

Generation but also deeply influenced by rock and

roll, the legacy of the European avant-garde from

Knut Hamsun to James Joyce, and his own native

Kentucky. He is at the same time a regional and

universal writer; Kentucky is his home but the

world is his subject. Whitehead's poetry is a

powerful summation of the American spirit.

I would like to take this time to bring this

extraordinary poet to your attention for

consideration for the Nobel Prize in literature.

Whitehead's poetry is exuberant and shocking,

delicate and blunt, combative and sensitive. There is

a vital spirituality in his work that questions the

nature of artistic creativity at the same time it

embodies it. His work is profoundly engaged in

critiquing the control modern American culture has

over the individual and the planet. The Beaver Dam

Rocking Chair Marathon is a summation of his

aesthetics: part Bildungsroman, part rock protest,

all Whitehead white hot poetic energy.

As the profile in this package indicates, Whitehead

is a tireless promoter of poetry and its power to heal

the world. To recognize his work is to recognize the

power of the word to resist imperialism,

intolerance, and hate. Whitehead has made

American poetry a vehicle for social change and a

power to transform the world...

Thank you for considering this important American


Yours sincerely,

Dr. John Rocco

Associate Professor of Humanities

SUNY (State University of New York Maritime)

James Joyce scholar John Rocco is the author of

The Nirvana Companion, The Beastie Boys

Companion, The Doors Companion, The Grateful

Dead Companion, and other Schirmer Books. He is

completing a volume on James Joyce. His novel Fur

will be released this fall. He is a critic for American

Book Review and numerous other literary and

music publications. He can be contacted at

Several thousand of Ron's works have been published

round the world in a diverse range of publications from

TRIQUARTERLY (Northwestern University/Illinois)

to ARTFORUM (Czech Republic) to BLUE BEAT

JACKET (Japan) to BEAT SCENE (England) to

SOUTHERN REVIEW (North Carolina). Additional

biographical information, testimonials from round the

world, plus reviews, videos, audio recordings, writings,

photos, and more are available on the websites and

Ron has presented over 4,000 readings of his own

creative work round the world.

"Can poems and stories matter? Make a difference?

Ron Whitehead believes so. Ron Whitehead is one of

those ancient poets who were and are prophets. He sees

injustice and directs us back to the path of justice. His

poems and stories blend the terrible beauty of the

natural world with questions of global social

conscience. For Ron life is a quest to grow his soul.

Ron is a non-violent spiritual warrior who, regardless

of the consequences, fights for freedom and equal

rights for all. His poems and stories defy

categorization. They are original."

Ron's work is in museum, library, and private

collections around the world. The University of

Louisville Rare Books & Archives is the permanent

repository for all Ron's work (past, present, future).

1,500 (of thousands) pieces have been catalogued. Four

exhibits have been held. A major exhibition, with

catalogue, is being planned.

In 2005 Ron and his wife Sarah Elizabeth

performed/toured/presented their work across the USA

and Europe. They are booking a full touring schedule

for 2006. Sarah's new CD, WHEN THE REDBUDS

BLOOM (companion to Ron & Sarah's new book),

was recently released. Ron and Sarah's new co-

authored book, WESTERN KENTUCKY: Lost &

Forgotten, Found & Remembered, was released

early April 2006. Sarah and Ron are also presently

involved with Red Velvet Cake, an independent film

being produced in Kentucky,


When not traveling Ron and Sarah live (in a shack with

chickens) in Kentucky. For more information visit their

official website,,

which received two million hits from 50 countries in

the past year.

"I have long admired Ron Whitehead. He is crazy as

nine loons and his poetry

is a dazzling mix of folk wisdom & pure mathematics."

Hunter S. Thompson


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