Rod McKuen is a bestselling American poet, composer, and singer.
Born Rodney Marvin McKuen in Oakland, California, McKuen ran away from home at the age of eleven to escape an alcoholic stepfather and to send what money he could to his mother. After a series of jobs, from logger, ranch hand, railroad worker to rodeo cowboy, throughout the west, he turned to live poetic performance. McKuen began in the 1950s to give poetry readings, appearing with Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg; during this time, he often used the pseudonym "Dor."
McKuen moved to New York City in 1959 to compose and conduct for the TV show The CBS Workshop. During the early 1960s he spent most of his time in France. There he began to translate the work of Belgian singer/songwriter Jacques Brel into English. After Brel died he said, "As friends and as musical collaborators we had traveled, toured and written – together and apart – the events of our lives as if they were songs, and I guess they were. When news of Jacques? death came I stayed locked in my bedroom and drank for a week. That kind of self-pity was something he wouldn?t have approved of, but all I could do was replay our songs and ruminate over our unfinished life together."
McKuen enjoyed commercial success unusual in the field of modern popular poetry. His poems have been translated into eleven languages and his books have sold over 65 million copies. Throughout his career he has continued to enjoy sell-out concerts around the world and appears regularly at New York?s Carnegie Hall. Edward Habib's liner notes for McKuen's Amsterdam Concert album make the often-repeated claim that Rod McKuen is the best-selling and most widely read poet of all time .