Robert Duncan

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Robert Duncan
Born(1919-01-07)January 7, 1919
Oakland, California, United States
DiedFebruary 3, 1988(1988-02-03) (aged 69)
San Francisco, California
EducationUniversity of California, Berkeley, Black Mountain College
Literary movementSan Francisco Renaissance, Black Mountain School
PartnerJess Collins

Robert Edward Duncan (January 7, 1919 – February 3, 1988) was an American poet.

Duncan was born in Oakland, California. His mother died at his birth. He was adopted by a couple who taught him the occult religion of theosophy which believes in reincarnation and spiritual oneness. He decided to be a poet when he was in high school.[1][2]

He had two years of college at the University of California-Berkeley. Then he tried Black Mountain College in North Carolina.[2] In 1938, he moved to New York City. He met abstract expressionist artists. He started a magazine that printed writing by Henry Miller, Anaïs Nin, Kenneth Patchen, Lawrence Durrell and others.[1]

Duncan was drafted into the U. S. Army in 1941, but he was rejected because he came out as being gay.[2] In 1944, his essay called “The Homosexual in Society” was an early statement about the difficulty of living as a gay writer in that time.[3] In 1951 he met his lifelong partner, the artist Jess Collins.[2]

He went back to the University of California at Berkeley in 1947. He studied medieval and renaissance literature.[2] In 1956, the poet Charles Olson asked Duncan to teach at Black Mountain College. During his year there he wrote most of the poems that were collected in his important book The Opening of the Field.[1]

Duncan returned to San Francisco where he lived until he died of kidney disease in 1988.[4]

Books[change | change source]

  • Selected Poems (1959)
  • Letters 1953-56 (2003)
  • The Opening of the Field (1960)
  • Roots and Branches (1964)
  • Medea at Kolchis; the maiden head (1965)
  • Of the war: passages 22–27 (1966)
  • Bending the Bow (1968)
  • The Years As Catches: First poems (1939–1946) (1966)
  • Play time, pseudo stein (1969)
  • Caesar's gate: poems 1949-50 with paste-ups by Jess (1972)
  • Selected poems by Robert Duncan (1973, 1959)
  • An ode and Arcadia (1974)
  • Medieval scenes 1950 and 1959 (1978)
  • The five songs (1981)
  • Fictive Certainties (Essays) (1983)
  • Ground Work: Before the War (1984)
  • Ground Work II: In the Dark (1987)
  • Selected Poems edited by Robert Bertholf (1993)
  • A Selected Prose (1995)
  • Copy Book Entries, transcribed by Robert Bertholf (1996)
  • The Letters of Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov (2004)
  • Ground Work: Before the War / In the Dark (2006)
  • The H.D. Book (The Collected Writings of Robert Duncan) (2011)
  • The Unruly Garden: Robert Duncan and Eric Mottram, Letters and Essays (2007)
  • A Poet's Mind: Collected Interviews with Robert Duncan,1960-1985 (2012)

References[change | change source]

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 "About Robert Duncan | Academy of American Poets". Retrieved 2023-02-17.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 "Robert Duncan". Poetry Foundation. 2023-02-17. Retrieved 2023-02-17.
  3. "Robert Duncan's "The Homosexual in Society"". Louis Proyect: The Unrepentant Marxist. 2009-05-02. Retrieved 2023-02-17.
  4. Mitgang, Herbert (1988-02-04). "Robert Duncan, Poet and Author Of Works on the Creative Process". The New York Times. ISSN 0362-4331. Retrieved 2023-02-17.

Other websites[change | change source]