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Kooked

Mark Ford

10 March 1994
Selected Poems 
by Charles Olson, edited by Robert​ Creeley.
California, 225 pp., $25, December 1993, 0 520 07528 5
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Duncan, edited by Robert​ Bertholf.
Carcanet, 147 pp., £9.95, October 1993, 1 85754 038 7
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... British poets as different from each other as Donald Davie and Jeremy Prynne, Objectivists like Oppen and Reznikoff, and of course the whole group of poets associated with Black Mountain College – Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, RobertDuncan and Charles Olson. Of all these it was Charles Olson who engaged most directly and continuously with the implications of Pound’s poetics. The ...

Use Use Use

Robert​ Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream

23 October 2013
Robert DuncanThe Ambassador from Venus 
by Lisa Jarnot.
California, 509 pp., £27.95, August 2013, 978 0 520 23416 1
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... As a boy, RobertDuncan had a recurring dream. He would imagine himself in the middle of a treeless field. The ripe grass rippled, though there was no wind, and the light, as he later remembered, ‘was everywhere ...
20 April 1995
Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs and an Interview 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 571 17196 6
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... has also been laden down with paradox and wit; it is deeply conscious of several great traditions. ‘The care and the cunning of the style’, as he has written of Yeats’s ‘In Memory of Major Robert Gregory’, ‘its very finish’, serves ‘to place all impulsive decisions many drafts anterior to the version we read’. There is a beautiful neutrality, most of the time, in his tone. He gives ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert​ Baird: Denise Levertov

24 September 2014
Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... helped that many of the men who appreciated her poems fell for the woman who wrote them. Rexroth, who called her ‘one of the few people I ever completely loved at first sight’, talked her up to Robert Creeley; Creeley, who spent so much time with Levertov when they were both in Provence that his wife was sure they were having an affair, introduced her to William Carlos Williams; Williams told her ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation

7 September 2016
... Corso, ‘There is No More Street Corner ...’, unpublished manuscript (1960) Jack Kerouac, ‘On the Road’ (original typescript, 1951) Jack Kerouac, ‘The Slouch Hat’ (c.1960) John Cohen, ‘Robert Frank, Alfred Leslie, Gregory Corso’ (1959) Wallace Berman, Untitled (Allen Ginsberg, c.1960)PreviousNext These names belong to the original small group of friends who met in New York in the early ...

Pound & Co.

August Kleinzahler: Davenport and Kenner

26 September 2019
Questioning Minds: Vols I-II: The Letters of Guy Davenport and Hugh Kenner 
edited by Edward Burns.
Counterpoint, 1817 pp., $95, October 2018, 978 1 61902 181 5
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... second wedding in 1965. He wrote reviews and critical articles for the magazine and served as its poetry editor in the early 1960s. It must have seemed strange to read the poetry of Pound, Williams, RobertDuncan, Ian Hamilton Finlay, Robert Creeley and Louis Zukofsky in a right-wing political journal. ‘Don’t worry about the Birch boys,’ Kenner wrote to Davenport in 1961, trying to persuade him ...

No Light on in the House

August Kleinzahler: Richard Brautigan Revisited

14 December 2000
An Unfortunate Woman 
by Richard Brautigan.
Rebel Inc, 110 pp., £12, July 2000, 1 84195 023 8
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Revenge of the Lawn: Stories 1962-70 
by Richard Brautigan.
Rebel Inc, 146 pp., £6.99, June 2000, 1 84195 027 0
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You Can't Catch Death 
by Ianthe Brautigan.
Rebel Inc, 209 pp., £14.99, July 2000, 1 84195 025 4
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... because it is such a forgiving place, or was once, and such a remarkably pleasant place to be. Some of the presiding literary spirits when Brautigan arrived in town would have been Kenneth Rexroth, RobertDuncan and Jack Spicer (to whom Trout Fishing In America is dedicated). Writers such as Ginsberg, Kerouac, Corso, Snyder, Creeley would also have been moving through at this point, but the so-called ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia

6 October 1983
... this identity was to be indifferent to anything that was going on in London. A rather specialised branch of the ‘identity’ lobby spoke of the new affinity it felt with Californian poets like RobertDuncan. Again, the word ‘geography’ was used: it made geographical sense for Australians to cosy up with San Francisco. To balance the provincial angst, there were also a number of sneering ...

Toss the monkey wrench

August Kleinzahler: Lee Harwood’s risky poems

19 May 2005
Collected Poems 
by Lee Harwood.
Shearsman, 522 pp., £17.95, May 2004, 9780907562405
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... Fulcrum published three volumes each by Edward Dorn and Gary Snyder, the early work, which has proved to be their best and most enduring. Fulcrum also published two important early collections by RobertDuncan, Allen Ginsberg’s Ankor Wat and, most significantly, two volumes by Lorine Niedecker, North Central and My Life by Water, and George Oppen’s Collected Poetry. Of British poets, apart from ...

Colloquially Speaking

Patrick McGuinness: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945

1 April 1999
The Penguin Book of Poetry from Britain and Ireland since 1945 
edited by Simon Armitage and Robert​ Crawford.
Viking, 480 pp., £10.99, September 1998, 0 670 86829 9
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The Firebox: Poetry from Britain and Ireland after 1945 
edited by Sean O’Brien.
Picador, 534 pp., £16.99, October 1998, 0 330 36918 0
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... has no such self-effacing qualms. Blake Morrison and Andrew Motion knew this, as did the predecessor they were tussling with, A. Alvarez’s The New Poetry (which was tussling with its predecessor, Robert Conquest’s New Lines). ‘This anthology,’ they wrote in their preface to the Penguin Book of Contemporary British Poetry, ‘is intended to be didactic as well as representative.’ Though the ...

All There Needs to Be Said

August Kleinzahler: Louis Zukofsky

22 May 2008
The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky 
by Mark Scroggins.
Shoemaker and Hoard, 555 pp., $30, December 2007, 978 1 59376 158 5
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... hats. Carl Rakosi, the one Objectivist poet still alive and lucid at the time of the L-A-N-G-U-A-G-E group’s appropriation, protested vigorously, as did an older generation of advocates such as RobertDuncan, whose work was heavily influenced by Zukofsky and who resented what he felt was brazen opportunism and a fundamental misreading of the poetry. There was quite a noisy back and forth for a ...

Under the Staircase

Robert​ Neild

1 April 1983
War Plan UK: The Truth about Civil Defence in Britain 
by Duncan​ Campbell.
Burnett, 488 pp., £12.95, November 1982, 0 09 150670 0
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With Enough Shovels: Reagan, Bush and Nuclear War 
by Robert​ Scheer.
Secker, 279 pp., £8.95, February 1983, 0 436 44355 4
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... It was in an interview with one of them, Thomas K. Jones, whom President Reagan appointed Deputy Under-Secretary of Defence for Research and Engineering, Strategic and Theatre Nuclear Forces, that Robert Scheer heard the phrase from which he took the title of his book: ‘if there are enough shovels to go around, everybody’s going to make it.’ The shovels, Mr Jones explained, were for digging ...

Agh, Agh, Yah, Boo

David Wheatley: Ian Hamilton Finlay

4 December 2014
Midway: Letters from Ian Hamilton Finlay to Stephen Bann, 1964-69 
edited by Stephen Bann.
Wilmington Square, 426 pp., £25, May 2014, 978 1 905524 34 1
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... Finlay participated in the International Writers’ Conference of 1962 and did his bit to drag the Scottish Renaissance into the Beatnik era, establishing important transatlantic connections with Robert Creeley, Jonathan Williams, Lorine Niedecker and others. The break-up of his first marriage in 1964 terminated this period of relative stability, initiating the chapter of uncertainty that coincided ...

Her Body or the Sea

Ian Patterson: Ann Quin

21 June 2018
The Unmapped Country: Stories and Fragments 
by Ann Quin.
And Other Stories, 192 pp., £10, January 2018, 978 1 911508 14 4
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... something to her hosts, an older married couple. Tripticks, her fourth novel, marked a departure in her writing. She had spent some years in the United States on scholarships, living for a while with Robert Creeley, later with the poet Robert Sward, associating with poets, attending the famous 1965 Berkeley Poetry Conference where she would have heard Charles Olson, Ed Dorn, RobertDuncan and Allen ...

Retro-Selfies

Iain Sinclair: Ferlinghetti

17 December 2015
I Greet You at the Beginning of a Great Career: The Selected Correspondence of Lawrence Ferlinghetti and Allen Ginsberg, 1955–97 
edited by Bill Morgan.
City Lights, 284 pp., £11.83, July 2015, 978 0 87286 678 2
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Writing across the Landscape: Travel Journals 1960-2010 
by Lawrence Ferlinghetti, edited by Giada Diano and Matthew Gleeson.
Liveright, 464 pp., £22.99, October 2015, 978 1 63149 001 9
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... been poetry readings in the Bay Area before this and the Six Gallery was hardly virgin territory. The space had once been a community art venture called King Ubu, operated by the Black Mountain poet RobertDuncan and his collagist partner Jess Collins. Duncan, removing his clothes at the conclusion of his verse play Faust Foutu, in order to demonstrate the meaning of nakedness, anticipated by a decade ...

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