Robin Blaser is in his element in these monologues in interview format — personable, pedagogic, and himself a “high-energy construct,” to not-quite-cite Charles Olson. By virtue of this book, the reader experiences Blaser as a unique force field of magnetic knowledge and charismatic charm. He is at home among the poets, themselves practitioners and friends, meeting in 1974 at someone’s house in Vancouver.
“The Astonishment Tapes will now take its place within the growing field of international research about postwar American poetry's important contribution to world literature. Miriam Nichols has once again done exceptional scholarship.” —Peter Gizzi
“One of the great pleasures of this book is the glimpse it gives of another, more private Blaser than one we encounter in his collected poems and essays.” –Ben Friedlander
Norman FIscher's Experience is the fruit of a life’s work in Zen (and other religious practice) as well as in poetry. It is mature, syncretic, wide-ranging, and open-hearted. Fischer is able to find common ground between Judeo-Christian and Buddhist beliefs or between Zen and the writing life without eliding the differences and contradictions. When he says that, in a certain type of Zen meditation, ‘you allow the phrases to come forward to you as if they were alive,’ I (as a poet) know precisely what that means. In these essays, Fischer accomplishes it.” —Rae Armantrout, author of Versed, Just Saying, and Itself
Note: This interview was transcribed by Michael Nardone from a radio interview originally conducted on November 24, 2003, on Cross-Cultural Poetics, KAOS 89.3 FM, Olympia, Washington. In this episode of Cross-Cultural Poetics (Episode #8: The Inferno), Canadian poet Robin Blaser discusses Dante’s Inferno in relation to the American-made “inferno” in Iraq.