Robert Duncan, the Ambassador from Venus

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  • Format: Hardcover
  • Copyright: 2012-08-27
  • Publisher: Univ of California Pr

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This definitive biography chronicles the life and times of the poet Robert Duncan (1919-1988), who lived and wrote at the forefront of the literary, aesthetic, social, and political movements of his time. Duncan, associated with the Black Mountain School and the San Francisco Renaissance, was, and remains, a revered international figure--both for his fascinating life and his powerful, incantatory poetry. He became the leading practitioner of nontraditional open-form verse, exemplified in his masterwork The Opening of the Field.Lisa Jarnot takes us from Duncan's birth in Oakland, California, through his childhood in an eccentrically Theosophist household, to his life in San Francisco as an openly gay man who became an inspirational figure for the many poets and painters who gathered around him. Jarnot's vivid descriptions of life on the west coast and in New York City feature luminaries such as Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Tennessee Williams, James Baldwin, Paul Goodman, Michael McClure, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley, and Charles Olson. Weaving together quotations from Duncan's notebooks and interviews with those who knew him, this richly detailed work gives a brilliant account of the extraordinary life and art of one of America's great postwar poets.

Table of Contents

Forewordp. xiii
Prefacep. xxi
Acknowledgmentsp. xxiii
Textual Notesp. xxvii
Childhood's Retreat
The Antediluvian Worldp. 3
Native Son of the Golden Westp. 6
The Architecturep. 13
A Part in the Fabulousp. 21
The Wastelandp. 26
The Fathering Dreamp. 34
Toward the Shaman
The Little Freshman Yesp. 43
A Company of Womenp. 47
The Dancep. 53
From Romance to Ritualp. 61
Queen of the Whoresp. 69
Enlistedp. 77
Marriagep. 82
Divorcep. 88
The Enamord Mage
The End of the Warp. 95
The Round Tablep. 101
The First Poetry Festivalp. 105
The Venice Poemp. 109
Indian Talesp. 115
The Song of the Borderguardp. 118
The Way to Shadow Gardenp. 124
The Workshopp. 131
Mallorcap. 135
Caesar's Gatep. 141
The Opening of the Field
The Meadowp. 149
New York Interludep. 155
The San Francisco Scenep. 160
Olson, Whitehead, and the Magic Workshopp. 165
The Maidensp. 171
Elfmerep. 175
Night Scenesp. 180
H.D.p. 185
Go Eastp. 192
Apprehensionsp. 197
The Nasty Aesthetician
The Willp. 203
The Playhousep. 209
The Political Machinep. 214
Knight Errantp. 221
The Vancouver Conferencep. 225
Bending the Bowp. 229
A Night Songp. 234
Angerp. 239
The Berkeley Conferencep. 244
The Sixtiesp. 249
Domestic Scenes
The Householdp. 261
The Summer of Lovep. 266
Days of Ragep. 274
Ground-Workp. 280
Helter Skelterp. 285
Santa Cruz Propositionsp. 290
The Torn Clothp. 296
Despair in Being Tediousp. 303
The Cult of the Godsp. 310
Elm Park Roadp. 314
Riversidep. 320
The Heart of Rimep. 327
An Alternate Lifep. 339
Cambridgep. 346
The Avant-Gardep. 351
Adam, Eve, and Jahwehp. 355
San Francisco s Burningp. 361
At Seap. 365
The Cherubimp. 370
Alaskap. 377
Enthralledp. 383
The Master of Rime
New Collegep. 389
Five Songsp. 394
A Paris Visitp. 399
Bardp. 404
The Baptism of the Bloodp. 410
Hekatombep. 415
The Year of Duncanp. 422
The Circulation of the Bloodp. 429
In the Darkp. 432
Notesp. 435
Works Citedp. 503
Creditsp. 511
Indexp. 513
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