Now, with this two-volume edition, Merwin becomes only the second living poet to have his work collected by The Library of America. McClatchy — was the author of many books of poetry and essays, including Plundered Hearts: New and Selected Poems , and the editor of nine Library of America publications. Each Library of America series edition is printed on acid-free paper and features Smyth-sewn binding, a full cloth cover, and a ribbon marker.
Discount offer available for first-time customers only. With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come. Now, with this two-volume edition, Merwin becomes only the second living poet to have his work collected by The Library of America. McClatchy — was the author of many books of poetry and essays, including Plundered Hearts: New and Selected Poems , and the editor of nine Library of America publications.
Each Library of America series edition is printed on acid-free paper and features Smyth-sewn binding, a full cloth cover, and a ribbon marker. Discount offer available for first-time customers only. With contributions from donors, Library of America preserves and celebrates a vital part of our cultural heritage for generations to come. The transplantation of surrealism to the United States had indeed failed.
Moreover, Lamantia had, as he put it, "a fight with Ford" and resigned from View.
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Filled with bitterness and disappointment, Lamantia decided to return to San Francisco. At that point, he hadn't seen Breton for some time; indeed, his last encounter with Breton-by chance, in the company of Yves Tanguy, at the corner of Fifth Avenue and Fifty-Seventh-was one of the experiences he treasured most from the half-year or so he had spent in New York.
Having witnessed infighting and further examples of aversive behavior among the New York surrealists, followed by the breakup of the scene at war's end, Lamantia was alienated and disillusioned-and for the moment, ready to renounce surrealism. He boarded a train back to San Francisco in late In San Francisco, Lamantia enrolled in the Bates School for a year in order to obtain his high school diploma.
Above all, I was attracted by his inexhaustible and encyclopedic way of conversing. I'd visit him once a week Sometimes we'd talk a whole weekend. He also afforded Lamantia much practical assistance in obtaining Conscientious Objector status, after turning eighteen in October , in order to register a pacific refusal to go to war. In terms of his own poetry, Lamantia would frequently refer to this period as his "naturalistic" phase, implying a rejection of the original sources of his inspiration in the unconscious and automatic writing.
The poems he wrote at this time comprise the first section of his first book, Erotic Poems , published by George Leite's friend and collaborator Bern Porter, whose eponymous imprint had previously published books by Henry Miller, as well as Parker Tyler's The Granite Butterfly , a poem dedicated to Lamantia. Erotic Poems was introduced by Rexroth, who also suggested its title. In his introduction, Rexroth downplays the distinction between the two sections, and notably, Lamantia would reprint some of the poems from the "naturalistic" section in the first edition of his retrospective gathering of his early surrealist work, Touch of the Marvelous Generally speaking, the naturalistic poems are more measured in tone and pace than the earlier work, but lines like "You flee into a corridor of stars.
In the late s, Lamantia was an active participant in the "San Francisco Libertarian Circle," a Wednesday-night discussion group that formed around Rexroth, concomitant with his famous Friday-night "at home" salons. The subject matter of these meetings was as various as Rexroth's protean interests-Lamantia once lectured on the theories of Wilhelm Reich-but appears to have largely focused on philosophical and political anarchism, with participants reading the works of such writers as Peter Kropotkin, Enrico Malatesta, Emma Goldman, Martin Buber, and Nikolai Berdyaev.
During this period, along with fellow poets Sanders Russell and Robert Stock, Lamantia also edited a magazine, The Ark, intended as a more politically-oriented companion to Circle, though disagreements among the three editors halted its publication after the first issue in Spring In addition to these activities, between and , Lamantia audited a number of classes at the University of California, Berkeley, though he never formally enrolled.
While he sat in on poetry lectures by Josephine Miles-mentor to Duncan and Spicer, among others-Lamantia primarily attended classes in comparative religion and medieval history. He was deeply influenced by the lectures of Leonardo Olschki and Ernst Kantorowicz. His lecture on "The Assassins" sparked Lamantia's interest in Islam, leading him to study the Koran and retain a lasting sympathy for that religion.
Kantorowicz, an expert on medieval political and intellectual history, specialized in Frederick II of Sicily, the thirteenth-century Holy Roman Emperor whose religious tolerance, polymath erudition, and patronage of poetry had a lifelong appeal for Lamantia and awakened his interest in his own ethnic heritage.
It was also in Berkeley that he met the linguist Jaime de Angulo, whose work would inspire Lamantia's investigations into Native American cultures. Mention must also be made here of the eccentric ethnomusicologist, painter, and filmmaker Harry Smith, whom Lamantia met in and with whom he would further develop his interest in modern jazz and the newly-emerging rhythm and blues.
In addition to their frequent attendance at small after-hours clubs throughout San Francisco's Fillmore district, as well as downtown Oakland, the two shared a fascination with alchemy, aided and abetted by Smith's knack for obtaining rare alchemical texts. Apart from Rexroth, Lamantia's most important friendship during this period was with John Hoffman.
Born in Menlo Park, California in , Hoffman was a thin, bespectacled poet with long blonde hair and a small beard, the very image of the subsequent "beatnik" stereotype in American culture. He and Lamantia met in San Francisco around after a poetry reading.
Hoffman was already familiar with his new friend's poetry, for, when they repaired to Hoffman's cheap hotel to smoke marijuana, Lamantia noted "there were only two books in his room: a bound copy of the poems of St. John of the Cross-a rare book even then-and a copy of my first book, Erotic Poems. The appearance of Hoffman might be considered a sign of Lamantia's transition into the "Beat" phase of his life. For whereas Lamantia's precocious rise to avant-garde prominence in the s meant that his first colleagues had been often considerably older, he now began to associate with poets and artists approximately his own age; "the best minds of his generation," as it were, were catching up with him.
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At the same time, the s would prove to be one of the most difficult periods of his life-one he often referred to as a period of "eclipse"-marked by poetic restlessness, intense spiritual and physical wandering, and drug addiction. By the time Lamantia arrived, Hoffman had already begun intravenous use of heroin, and he immediately introduced his friend to the drug. Lamantia would struggle with heroin addiction throughout the s.
Indeed, according to Kerouac, aspects of Lamantia and Hoffman are "condensed" into the generalized portrait of junkie squatters in The Subterraneans , while Hoffman also appears in William Burroughs's first novel, Junky Lamantia's travels, drug use, rebellious attitude, interest in jazz and spiritual exploration, and friendships with Kerouac, Ginsberg, and others seem to mark him as a Beat poet.
Certainly his poetry developed a more vernacular diction during this period.
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Yet, there were notable differences between Lamantia and the Beats. The Beats were in the ascendant, loudly laying claim to their own space within culture, confidant of the authenticity of their own voices. Lamantia, in contrast, was at this time unsure of his identity and direction as a writer.
Moreover, Lamantia's focus on esotericism set him apart from the Beats, who were more interested in immediate reality. As Nancy Joyce Peters observed in her biographical essay on Lamantia, "While much Beat writing was spontaneous reportage and meditation on daily life, Lamantia concentrated on hermetic, symbolic, and magical themes.
Deep down Allen felt Philip was not an ignu a special honorary term he and Kerouac had coined to apply to like-minded people.
In , Lamantia made his first trip to Mexico, accompanied by another friend, the poet, avant-garde filmmaker, and editor of Contour, Christopher Maclaine. Very little is known about this particular trip. According to an unpublished interview with John Suiter-used as source material for Suiter's book, Poets on the Peaks: Gary Snyder, Philip Whalen Jack Kerouac in the North Cascades -Lamantia had read Antonin Artaud's Voyage to the Land of the Tarahumara written in , published in "by ," and, though the two poets didn't visit these remote people, it seems likely that Artaud's account of the psychotropic effects of the peyote cactus at least partially motivated their visit.
Whether or not they obtained peyote on this trip, Lamantia soon learned he could order dried peyote buttons through the mail, from various seed catalogs.
It's no exaggeration to claim, as Suiter does, that Lamantia introduced peyote into the Bay Area literary scene, over a decade and a half before San Francisco's late '60s psychedelic heyday. The house in which he lived contained de Angulo's library of ethnographic and anthropological books, among them Carl Lumholtz's Unknown Mexico , in which Lamantia read of the three indigenous Mexican peoples with peyote rituals: the Tarahumara, the Huichole, and the Cora. Also at this house, in early , Lamantia would receive a visit from Kerouac and Neal Cassady, turning them both on to peyote, though Kerouac would famously fall asleep and experience none of the plant's hallucinatory effects.
Still, Kerouac would report on his continuing fascination with Lamantia's poetry, personality, and peyote experiences, in a letter to Ginsberg that year, describing the de Angulo house as a "stone small castle overlooking Berkeley Calif.
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