Articles - May 2011

Poetry in 1960, a symposium: Question and answer session

Editors note: This is a transcription of the discussion that immediately following the short presentations on December 6, 2010, at the Kelly Writers House in Philadelphia. If you check these words against the video or audio recordings, you will notice that the participants have slightly corrected or otherwise revised their comments — for style and clarity, we would say on the whole, rather than substance.

Breathing a fire of risk

Kunitz and Guest in the KWH 1960 symposium

The 1960s Symposium at the Kelly Writers House happened last December and featured a varied list of speakers. Each one addressed the 1960s moment in American literary history, which could best be summed up by the books published around that time. It seemed like a fabulous event and I could certainly comment on every last minute of it. Below are just some of my thoughts on two parts: Al Filreis’s introduction and Erica Kaufman’s discussion of Barbara Guest’s book, The Location of Things.

On Gary Snyder, 'Myths & Texts'

Published in 1960 by Totem Press, Gary Snyder’s Myths & Texts (completed in 1956) gives the first indication that his career would be devoted to the long poem as well as the short poem. Anthologized as the author of lyrics like “Nooksack Valley,” “The Bath,” and “True Night,” Snyder also worked away for forty years on the 152-page long Mountains and Rivers Without End (Counterpoint, 1996).

Commentary on Larry Eigner's 'On My Eyes'

A response to Charles Bernstein's 1960 symposium presentation

Eigner’s On My Eyes, which was published in 1960, was “edited” as nearly all Larry’s books were during his lifetime: by other hands. Apparently it was thought — and I’m not clear about exactly why this was deemed to be necessary — that Larry was unable to do it himself, and needed this “help” to do it.

Rexroth to Kerouac

Bob Perelman’s “hats off to Donald Allen” sent me back to The New American Poetry. [1] Allen’s brief preface sketches out an open field of postwar American poetry, from the modernists to a “strong third generation” which “has at last emerged.” [2]