Michael Rumaker

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Michael Rumaker is an American author (born March 5, 1932 in Philadelphia, PA) best known for his semi-autobiographical novels that document his life as a gay man in the 1950s and after.

Rumaker graduated from Black Mountain College in 1955 and later wrote a memoir of his time there. He hitchhiked to San Francisco where he encountered the literature of the Beat Generation. Returning to New York, he attended Columbia University and received an MFA in 1971, after which he began teaching writing.[1]

Rumaker's first collection was in 1959 in the new-writer showcase Short Story 2, which featured short stories from him and three other authors, including Gertrude Friedberg.[2] His short stories in the book received a favourable review in The New York Times, where he was described as an "impressive young writer.[2]

His first book, The Butterfly, is a fictionalized memoir of his brief affair with a young Yoko Ono, published before Ono became famous. His short stories, Gringos and other stories, appeared in 1967. A revised and expanded version appeared in 1991. He began to write directly about his life as a gay man in the volumes A Day and a Night at the Baths (1979) and My First Satyrnalia (1981). The novel Pagan Days (1991) is told from the perspective of an eight-year-old boy struggling to understand his gay self. Black Mountain Days, a memoir of his time at Black Mountain College, has a strong autobiographical element. In addition, there are portraits of many students and faculty (including the poets Robert Creeley, Charles Olson and Jonathan Williams) during its last years, 1952-1956.

Following his graduation from Black Mountain College, Rumaker made his way to the post-Howl, pre-Stonewall riots gay literary milieu of San Francisco, where he entered the circle of Robert Duncan. His account of that time in the book Robert Duncan in San Francisco, first published by Donald Allen at his Grey Fox Press, gives an unvarnished look at the premier poet of the San Francisco Renaissance. Rumaker will release previously unpublished letters between himself and Robert Duncan for a new edition, published by City Lights.


  1. ^ Braud, Donovan S. (2005). "Michael Rumaker". In William Lawlor. Beat Culture: Lifestyles, Icons, and Impact. ABC-CLIO. p. 306. ISBN 9781851094004. Retrieved 31 July 2012.
  2. ^ a b Peden, William (October 18, 1959). "Writer to Watch". The New York Times. Retrieved November 23, 2012.

Published works[edit]