The Berkeley Poetry Conference occurred from July 12 to July 25, 1965, organized by Donald Allen, Richard Baker, Robert Duncan, and Thomas Parkinson. LeRoi Jones was scheduled on the highest tier of participation, to deliver a lecture, a seminar, and a reading, but declined to participate and was replaced by Ed Dorn. I will investigate the divergence of thought of Jones and the Conference behind the refusal, and what might be achieved in thinking them in conjunction, by examining a contemporaneous recording of Jones, introducing his piece as “ideas I have about theatre circa January 1965,” with recordings from the Conference. I have focused on the recordings of Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan for having the strongest social and political implications for this conjunction. The other available recordings are John Wieners, Reading, July 14; Charles Olson, Lecture, “Causal Mythology,” July 20; Robert Creeley, Reading, July 22; Creeley, Lecture, “Sense of Measure,” July 23; and Joanne Kyger, Reading, July 24. Wieners and Kyger are primarily concerned with imaginative musings of the self, Olson with socially disconnected myths, and Creeley with Williams’ aesthetics of measure and the interpersonal.
From the bio note in Day: Frank Samperi was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1933. Discovered by poet Louis Zukofsky, his first poems were published in the early 1960’s. Through study of Aquinas, Aristotle, Dante and the Hindu Vedantist, Shankaracarya, Samperi created a body of work that was a unique exploration of the ability of language to exist in a pure musicality apart from thingly reference. “Frank’s work was truly abstract, truly resisted the things of the world and boasted rather the refining fire of the spirit,” said Robert Kelly. In his lifetime, he published 20 collections of poetry.