It's worth sharing, I think, that McKuen was a gateway to a larger lifelong experience with poetry; he was a primary influence in motivating me to write and eventually publish my poems over the last several decades. My early influences were a mixed bag of styles, beginning with Dylan's bucolic surrealism, up to Eliot's fractured, despairing modernism, Ginsberg, of course, and critically, McKuen's solipsistic romanticism.
I was fifteen or sixteen, a choice age to get obsessed with feeling unique alone in the world, and McKuen was the poet I related to most because his persona was more cinematic than poetic. Even then, I imagined this character after hours, walking the waterfront in a thick fog, harbor lights and neon signs of seedy bars blurry through the dark gray patina, Bogart as Marlow or the Continental Op mulling over the day's events and a life of failed love affairs. It was an image of the man alone, carrying an emotional weight that would seemingly crush others of lesser depth of character. I wrote especially awful and clumsy imitations and unintentional parodies of the poets and lyricists I admired and composed a good amount of broken line stanzas trying to assume the voice of a man who, like, McKuen, spoke from a position of long life and experience. The problem was obvious because I was in my mid-teens, had no real experience and, though McKuen's accounts of his life were fictional, lacked that poet's richness of imagination. But I continued writing, discovering more poets, a rich blend of modernists, classic voices, international voices, and learned one line at a time how to compose a poem rather than merely express feelings, real or imagined.
Knowing the rap about an art that is, by definition, supposed to deal with hard-to-express beliefs is more important than either the art and, most tragically, the human life is supposed to augment and bring quality to. In this regard, McKuen wins the argument about the value of his work; he was awful as a poet, but the alternative was smug and something of a private club that few in our population found worth the bother to apply for membership in.