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Robert Baird: Robert Duncan’s Dream, 24 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, Robert Duncan 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’, though there was no sun to be seen. Seeing himself in the centre of a circle of children, all of them singing and playing ‘Ring a Ring o’ Roses’, Duncan understood that he was ‘it’: ‘the Chosen One … a “King” or victim of the children’s round dance ...

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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... and Reznikoff, and of course the whole group of poets associated with Black Mountain College – Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan and Charles Olson. Of all these it was Charles Olson who engaged most directly and continuously with the implications of Pound’s poetics. The Maximus Poems can he ...
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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... 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 nothing away. He does not know, just as the reader must ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov, 25 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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... 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 that her second collection, Here and Now ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 8 September 2016

... 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 1940s. Within ten years Ginsberg had moved to San ...

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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... space had once been a community art venture called King Ubu, operated by the Black Mountain poet Robert Duncan 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 or so the ...

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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... editor in the early 1960s. It must have seemed strange to read the poetry of Pound, Williams, Robert Duncan, 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 to contribute to ...

Diary

Ian Hamilton: Two weeks in Australia, 6 October 1983

... branch of the ‘identity’ lobby spoke of the new affinity it felt with Californian poets like Robert Duncan. 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 cosmopolitans, but they tended not to sit on ...

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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... to be their best and most enduring. Fulcrum also published two important early collections by Robert Duncan, 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 Bunting, Montgomery published four collections by ...

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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... of the presiding literary spirits when Brautigan arrived in town would have been Kenneth Rexroth, Robert Duncan 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 Beat Scene was not fully fledged, and its principals ...

Take out all the adjectives

Jeremy Harding: The poetry of George Oppen, 6 May 2004

New Collected Poems 
by George Oppen, edited by Michael Davidson.
Carcanet, 433 pp., £14.95, July 2003, 1 85754 631 8
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... or cultivate the young, and he fell in with a new generation of poets in the 1960s, including Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley, but he was not entirely at home with the spirit of the decade, or the radicalism of the New Left. His wonderful letters, in which he thinks on his fingers, clattering away with a freedom ...

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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... 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 things anthologies make happen may be confined to ...

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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... group’s appropriation, protested vigorously, as did an older generation of advocates such as Robert Duncan, 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 while – great fun really. Scroggins discusses all ...

Snarly Glitters

August Kleinzahler: Roy Fisher, 20 April 2006

The Long and the Short of It: Poems 1955-2005 
by Roy Fisher.
Bloodaxe, 400 pp., £12, June 2005, 1 85224 701 0
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... As was, and remains, his custom, he nosed about on his own. One early non-Modernist influence was Robert Graves, and the ‘brusque conversational tone’ in some of his poetry. In the mid-1950s, the poet Gael Turnbull, who was editing a special British number for Cid Corman’s magazine Origin, took an interest in Fisher’s work and invited him to his home ...

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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... 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 with his first letters to Stephen Bann. At no stage in ...

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