Robert Duncan's profound appeal as a writer, and as a mentor to very different kinds of poets, suggests the vigour, various charm and scope of his work. He is certainly a poet aware - in his themes and his expansive techniques - of his radical creative role. "Selected Poems" is an introduction to his work from early pieces through the final ...
Robert Duncan's profound appeal as a writer, and as a mentor to very different kinds of poets, suggests the vigour, various charm and scope of his work. He is certainly a poet aware - in his themes and his expansive techniques - of his radical creative role. "Selected Poems" is an introduction to his work from early pieces through the final "Ground Work" collections. His serial poems "Structures of Rime" and "Passages", composed over 25 years, are represented too.
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Publishers Weekly, 1993-02-15 Duncan (1919-1987) was one of the true masters of contemporary American poetry. His oeuvre is by turns lyrical, experimental, archaic, visionary and political. His most innovative works (``Structure of Rime'' and ``Passages'') have been epic in nature and interspersed among shorter poems throughout several volumes, so that it has been virtually impossible to get a sense of his full poetic powers without reading his mature books, from 1960 on, in order. Bertholf's selections are so attuned to the essentials of Duncan's ( Ground Work: Before the War ; Roots and Branches ) writing--the idiosyncratic spellings, the attention and respect given the muses, the horrific sense of war--that even those familiar with the whole body of Duncan's work will become more sensitized to his recurring imagery and consistency of thought pattern through this collection. ``Writing is first a search in obedience,'' he says in a relatively early poem. And, varying this concept in one of his final poems, written during a long, painful illness: ``What Angel, what Gift of the Poem, has brought into my / body / this sickness of living?'' In Bertholf's brief, insightful introduction, he makes necessary connections between the often-neglected early work and the later masterpieces. (Mar.)
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