Bobbie Louise Hawkins, "a prodigious Beat Generation poet and novelist whose work reverberated with her hardscrabble Texas childhood and her belated liberation from an overbearing husband," died May 4, the New York Times reported. She was 87. Hawkins "left her literary imprint on a cultural landscape dominated by men and as a mentor to a generation of female writers."
Hawkins wrote more than 20 books of fiction, nonfiction, poetry and impressionist monologues, including 15 Poems (1974), Back to Texas (1977), Almost Everything (1982), One Small Saga (1984) and My Own Alphabet (1989).
Her volatile 18-year marriage to noted poet Robert Creeley, whom she called "the most interesting man I ever met," ended in divorce in the 1970s. "I think a part of what attracted Bob to me was competences I had within myself, but it was as if once I was within his purview, those competences were only to be used for his needs, in the space where we lived, and not as though they were my own," Hawkins said. "What I was really fighting for wasn't the right to be some kind of brilliant writer. I was fighting for the right to write badly until it got better." The Times noted that once she and Creeley separated around 1975, "she stopped writing surreptitiously."
In 1978, poets Anne Waldman and Allen Ginsberg recruited Hawkins to join the faculty of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at the Naropa Institute (now Naropa University) in Boulder, Colo., where she taught until she retired in 2010.
"Bobbie Louise Hawkins, story teller and monologuist and performer with extraordinary wit and timing, leaves a legacy of written work to be explored, performed and appreciated by a wide audience," Waldman said.