Six Mondays, September 30 through November 4, 6:15 to 8:00 p.m.
"Teach a person to write a poem and he begins to know himself; teach a person to read a poem and she begins to know the world."–Charles Bernstein
Robert Duncan was a Black Mountain poet, a New American Poetry poet, a San Francisco Renaissance poet, a New York Anarchist poet, a gay activist poet, and more. These appellations derive from his social connections in poetry and from his various locations in life. He can also be considered a Romantic, a Modernist, and a Postmodernist, despite and because of the contradictions within and between these terms. Duncan reaches out to other poets and artists through a variety of circles of influence, some of which are direct, and some through the imaginarium. From Dante to Blake to Shelley to H.D. to Jack Spicer to Charles Olson to Robert Creeley to Beverly Dahlen and many more, Duncan became and remains a connecting point for a Poetry (the art in the largest sense possible) that remains open, engaged, illuminating. In this literature class, we will study Duncan’s poetry, from his early Medieval Scenes and Stein imitations to his embrace of open form in “Poem Beginning with a Line by Pindar,” the Dante Etudes, “Structures of Rime,” and what many consider his most expansive, inspiring, and beautiful work, the Passages sequence that runs through several of his later books. We will also look at his commitments to peace and social movements, to dream and vision; we will consider his biography and his conceptions of friendship, as we consider his poems, his HD Book, his letters to other poets, and poems by some of his forebears, contemporaries, and those inspired by him.
Please note that this is a literature class, not a creative writing workshop. The purpose of the class is to critically read and discuss published poetry, and to gain a greater understanding of the imagination, processes, and contexts of a major poet.