Tuesday, November 22, 2005


For me, initially, it was Call Me Ishmael. The uniqueness of that text, a poet's book, a reverie on a writer I hadn't read since I was a kid. That started me off on Meltzer's Melville mania, read everything of Herman's in record time plus Leyda's great Melville Log in early '60s. Wd talk a lot about Melville w/ McClure in those days. Olson was also very present in both our creative intellective households -- those Jargon Maximus fasicles, Projective Verse (which reminded me of WCW's ongoing attempt to nail down 'variable foot' -- similar to Ornette trying to explain Harmolodics [sp?]) -- Mayan Hieroglyphs, another unique text of a poet-scholar -- always felt like a suckerfish swimming under Moby's belly -- in my world then there were two immense poet-thinkers: Olson & Robert Duncan. Both men were peers from Black Mountain days & I can only imagine the kinds of conversations they had.

Ironically, I'm still teaching in the graduate Poetics Program of New College of California, whose first five years were blessed by Robert Duncan & Diane di Prima & Duncan McNaughton who, with Louis Patler, had the vision & chutzpah to create the possibility -- another story altogether, but one deeply influence by the Big O & Robert. A quarter century of the program & neither Olson or Robert are taught in the curriculum.

During the first few years, a renewing floating opera of poets like Michael Palmer, Lynn Hejinian, Michael McClure, Creeley, Whalen, Waldman, Lorenzo Thomas, Robert Grenier, Jerome Rothenberg, Judy Grahn, Joanne Kyger, Susan Howe, Bill Berkson, Clark Coolidge -- can't find the Rolodex -- almost all formed or informed by Robert &/or Olson or both -- were participants in the New College project to, in many ways, embody 'The Curriculum of the Soul'.

What happened? Was it the inability to become the fathers that the death of fathers left us to become? (Baraka nails that down in his obit for Miles: 'now we have to become the fathers.')

So many poets of my generation inspired into a pre-Internet exploration of Field. We became the invisible & invariable historians; hunters & gatherers of the constantly shattering world.

No comments: