By Lisa Jarnot
This definitive biography provides an excellent account of the lifestyles and paintings of Robert Duncan (1919–1988), one in every of America’s nice postwar poets. Lisa Jarnot takes us from Duncan’s start in Oakland, California, via his early life in an eccentrically Theosophist family, to his existence in San Francisco as an brazenly homosexual guy who grew to become an inspirational determine for the numerous poets and painters who accrued round him. Weaving jointly quotations from Duncan’s notebooks and interviews with those that knew him, Jarnot vividly describes his lifestyles at the West Coast and in manhattan urban and his encounters with luminaries akin to Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Paul Goodman, Michael McClure, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, and Charles Olson.
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Additional info for Robert Duncan, The Ambassador from Venus: A Biography
Whilst former scholar Jonathan Williams visited along with his new version of Olson’s Maximus II, the ensuing examining and Bastille Day celebration left scholars and college alike with champagne hangovers. In San Francisco, Jess was once trying to find a role, whereas Duncan came across himself overworked. instructing 5 days every week, he said domestic that he used to be by no means definite what could occur within the lecture room: “The new direction on ‘content,’ seeing that i'm making it up as we cross alongside, is sort of a double-course for me. We began by means of making up nonsense sentences; after which after opting for one fairly imprecise one from each one within the category writing ‘explanations’ of what they suggest. ”17 because the summer season wore on, Duncan felt the stress of the gap from his loved ones in San Francisco and the frenetic strength of Black Mountain. In early August, he back wrote to Jess, “Walking domestic simply now down the hill from Jerry’s [van de Wiele] . . . i used to be such a lot completely contemplating you with me, such a lot solely hoping on the total moon magic. After an afternoon and the day gone by too of melancholy, I suppose—of the crawling into mattress and interpreting temper that after you're not really here's a lonely looney retreat. ”18 by way of mid-August, Duncan used to be having trouble stretching his wage to pay for foodstuff, and his house had develop into infested with fleas. discovering a few solace in evenings spent with new associates, Don and Eloise Mixon, he started composing Medea at Kolchis, finishing it in time for a past due August functionality on campus. He used to be happy with his solid, telling Jess, “Wes [Huss] is taking part in Mrs. Garrow; Don [Mixon], Jason. a brand new pupil Eric [Weinberger] is taking part in the physician (who is Jason’s guardian—and “soul” in a few sense)—Eloise [Mixon] has a superb half for her as Edna Medea’s aunt, all celtic twilight and romantic speak. The previous guy i'm taking part in myself—wheezing and grunting, sighing and damn on. ”19 The August 28 and 29 performances of the play have been the college’s ultimate occasions, although Duncan, Wes Huss, and the scholars made plans to regroup in San Francisco and shape a theater corporation there. 20 while Black Mountain closed its doorways, its writers and artists headed for brand new York and San Francisco. some of the younger painters and writers who might shape a neighborhood round the San Francisco Renaissance had first been trained at Black Mountain. on the finish of the summer season of 1956, Duncan appeared ahead to returning domestic. After a quick stopover at to Denise Levertov and Mitch Goodman in big apple, he boarded an August 31 flight to San Francisco to be reunited with Jess after approximately 3 months of separation. TWENTY-SEVEN ________ The San Francisco Scene San Francisco is part of a ship that's sinking, and I’m now not the type of rat who will get out of a sinking boat. ROBERT DUNCAN, “The historical past of the Poetry Center,” 1976 whereas DUNCAN used to be AT BLACK MOUNTAIN university, the San Francisco poetry group used to be in the middle of transformation. in the course of the early a part of 1956, Duncan had got experiences from either Michael McClure and Robert Creeley approximately occasions in his domestic urban, yet he won't were solely ready for what awaited him upon his go back.