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Also author of The H. Book , a long work in several parts, published in literary journals.

Duncan, Robert 1919–1988

Allen, , and many others. Contributor of poems, under name Robert Symmes, to Phoenix and Ritual. Kenneth Rexroth, writing in Assays , named Duncan "one of the most accomplished, one of the most influential" of U. An important participant in the Black Mountain school of poetry led by Charles Olson , Duncan became "probably the figure with the richest natural genius" from among that group, suggested M. Duncan was also, in Rosenthal's opinion, perhaps "the most intellectual of our poets from the point of view of the effect upon him of a wide, critically intelligent reading.

The homosexual companion of San Francisco painter Jess Collins, Duncan was also one of the first poets to call for a new social consciousness that would accept homosexuality. Largely responsible for the establishment of San Francisco as the spiritual hub of contemporary American poetry, Duncan left, at his death, a significant contribution to American literature through the body of his writings and through the many poets who felt the influence of the theory behind his poetics.

Duncan's poetics were formed by the events of his early life. His mother died while giving him birth, leaving his father, a day laborer, to care for him. Six months later, he was adopted by a couple who selected him on the basis of his astrological configuration. Their reverence for the occult in general, and especially their belief in reincarnation and other concepts from Hinduism, was a lasting and important influence on Duncan's poetic vision. Encouraged by a high school English teacher who saw poetry as an essential means of sustaining spiritual vigor, Duncan chose his vocation while still in his teens.

Though his parents wanted him to have a European education in medieval history, he remained in San Francisco, living as a recluse so as not to embarrass the academic figure who was his lover. He continued reading and writing, eventually became the student of Middle Ages historian Ernst Kantorowicz, and throughout his life "maintained a profound interest in occult matters as parallel to and informing his own theories of poetry," Michael Davidson reported in another Dictionary of Literary Biography essay. Minnesota Review contributor Victor Contoski suggested that Duncan's essays in The Truth and Life of Myth comprise "the best single introduction to his poetry," which, for Duncan, was closely related to mysticism.

Duncan, noted a London Times reporter, was primarily "concerned with poetry as what he called 'manipulative magic' and a 'magic ritual', and with the nature of what he thought of in a markedly Freudian manner as 'human bisexuality. Olson promoted projective verse, a poetry shaped by the rhythms of the poet's breath, which he defined as an extension of nature. These poems found their own "open" forms unlike the prescribed measures and line lengths that ruled traditional poetry.

Furthermore, explained some critics, Duncan fulfilled Olson's dictum more fully than Olson had done; whereas Olson projected the poem into a space bounded by the poet's natural breath, Duncan carried this process farther, defining the poem as an open field without boundaries of any kind. Duncan was a syncretist possessing "a bridge-building, time-binding, and space-binding imagination" in which "the Many are One, where all faces have their Original Being, and where Eternal Love encompasses all reality, both Good and Evil," wrote Stephen Stepanchev in American Poetry since A Duncan poem, accordingly, is like a collage, "a compositional field where anything might enter: a prose quotation, a catalogue, a recipe, a dramatic monologue, a diatribe," Davidson explained.

The poems draw together into one dense fabric materials from sources as diverse as works on ancient magic, Christian mysticism, and the Oxford English Dictionary. Writing in the New York Times Book Review , Jim Harrison called the structure of a typical Duncan poem multi-layered and four-dimensional—"moving through time with the poet"—and compared it to "a block of weaving…. Bending the Bow is for the strenuous, the hyperactive reader of poetry; to read Duncan with any immediate grace would require Norman O.

Brown's knowledge of the arcane mixed with Ezra Pound's grasp of poetics…. It simply helps to be familiar with Dante, [William] Blake, mythography, medieval history, H. Process, not conclusion, drew Duncan's focus. In some pages from a notebook published in Donald Allen's The New American Poetry: — , Duncan stated: "A longing grows to return to the open composition in which the accidents and imperfections of speech might awake intimations of human being….

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There is a natural mystery in poetry. We do not understand all that we render up to understanding…. I study what I write as I study out any mystery. A poem, mine or another's, is an occult document, a body awaiting vivisection, analysis, X-rays. A Small Porch contains nine Sabbath poems from and sixteen from That poem, along with fourteen others, can also be found in Sabbaths , published by Larkspur Press. The poems are motivated by Berry's longtime habit of walking out onto the land on Sunday mornings.

As he puts it, "I go free from the tasks and intentions of my workdays, and so my mind becomes hospitable to unintended thoughts: to what I am very willing to call inspiration. The bell calls in the town Where forebears cleared the shaded land And brought high daylight down To shine on field and trodden road. I hear, but understand Contrarily, and walk into the woods. I leave labor and load, Take up a different story. I keep an inventory Of wonders and of uncommercial goods.

The Sabbath poems have been described as "written from a particular place and on particular Sabbaths, and so should be read as part of a spiritual practice and as poems, in some sense, devoted to dwelling, to living thoughtfully in one place. As Thoreau continues in ' Life Without Principle ,' he notes the constant busyness of Americans, so engaged in 'infinite bustle' that 'there is no sabbath. Berry's fiction to date consists of eight novels and fifty-one short stories forty-three of which are collected in That Distant Land , and A Place in Time , which, when read as a whole, form a chronicle of the fictional small Kentucky town of Port William.

Because of his long-term, ongoing exploration of the life of an imagined place, Berry has been compared to William Faulkner. Hence Berry is sometimes described as working in an idealized, pastoral, or nostalgic mode, a characterization of his work which he resists: "If your work includes a criticism of history, which mine certainly does, you can't be accused of wanting to go back to something, because you're saying that what we were wasn't good enough.

The effect of profound shifts in the agricultural practices of the United States, and the disappearance of traditional agrarian life, [83] are some of the major concerns of the Port William fiction, though the theme is often only a background or subtext to the stories themselves. The Port William fiction attempts to portray, on a local scale, what "a human economy … conducted with reverence" [84] looked like in the past—and what civic, domestic, and personal virtues might be evoked by such an economy were it pursued today.

Social as well as seasonal changes mark the passage of time. The Port William stories allow Berry to explore the human dimensions of the decline of the family farm and farm community, under the influence of expanding post- World War II agribusiness. But these works rarely fall into simple didacticism, and are never merely tales of decline. Each is grounded in a realistic depiction of character and community.

In the course of the novel, we see how not only Mat but the entire community wrestles with the acute costs of World War II. Berry's fiction also allows him to explore the literal and metaphorical implications of marriage as that which binds individuals, families, and communities to each other and to Nature itself—yet not all of Port William is happily or conventionally married. The barber Jayber Crow lives with a forlorn, secret, and unrequited love for a woman, believing himself "mentally" married to her even though she knows nothing about it. Burley Coulter never formalizes his bond with Kate Helen Branch, the mother of his son.

Yet, each of these men find themselves firmly bound up in the community, the "membership," of Port William. Of his fictional project, Berry has written: "I have made the imagined town of Port William, its neighborhood and membership, in an attempt to honor the actual place where I have lived. By means of the imagined place, over the last fifty years, I have learned to see my native landscape and neighborhood as a place unique in the world, a work of God, possessed of an inherent sanctity that mocks any human valuation that can be put upon it.

In January, , the Library of America published a volume of Berry's fiction—the first of a projected four volumes of his writing. In Berry's first novel, young Nathan "comes of age" through dealing with the death of his mother, the depression of his father Jared, the rugged companionship of his brother Tom, and the mischief of his uncle Burley. Kirkus Review concludes, "A sensitive adolescent theme is handled rather poetically, but so uniform in tone that no drama is generated and no sense of time passing is felt.

Set in the critical year of , this novel focuses on farmer Mat Feltner's struggle over the news that his son Virgil has been listed as missing in action while also telling multiple tales of the lives of other Port William residents, such as Burley Coulter, Jack Beechum, Ernest Finley, Ida and Gideon Crop. Reprinting by North Point Press in allowed Berry to radically revise the novel, [91] removing almost a third of its original length. Jeffrey Bilbro believes that these substantial changes marked growth in Berry's approach.

He allows us, as readers, to participate in the ignorance of his characters, and in doing so, we may be able to understand more fully the painful difficulty of choosing fidelity to the natural order while living in the midst of mystery.


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This third novel of Port William begins with Jack Beechum as a very old man in and continues back into his youth and maturity to uncover his life and work as a dedicated farmer, conflicted husband, and living link to past generations. Josh Hurst comments on Berry's ability to avoid certain narrative pitfalls, "Jack's story could be presented us either as heroic ballad or as cautionary [tale]—and there is much in his life to support both admiration and gentle tisk-tisking—but the gift of this book is how it allows a man's memories to wash over us as though unshaped by narrative or conscious editorializing.

In Berry's fourth novel, an adult Andy Catlett wanders through San Francisco remembering, but feeling alienated from, his native Port William. He struggles to come to terms with himself, his marriage, his farm, and the distorted values of American society.


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  • Of Berry's vision here, Charles Solomon writes, "Wendell Berry contrasts modern American agribusiness--which he depicts as an artificial conglomeration of sterile flow charts, debts and mechanization--with the older ideal of farming as a nurturing way of life. Young Andy Catlett's uncle Andrew had been murdered back in , and now an adult Andy is reconstructing the event and its aftermath.

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    This is simple, soul-satisfying storytelling, augmented by understated humor and quiet insight. Port William's barber recounts his life's journey in Berry's sixth novel. Jayber's early life as an orphan near Port William is followed by studies towards a possible vocation to Church ministry. A questioning mind, however, sends him in other directions until he finds himself back in Port William with an ever-growing commitment to that place and its people. As Publisher's Weekly notes, "Crow's life, which begins as WWI is about to erupt, is emblematic of a century of upheaval, and Berry's anecdotal and episodic tale sounds a challenge to contemporary notions of progress.

    It is to Berry's credit that a novel so freighted with ideas and ideology manages to project such warmth and luminosity. Berry's seventh novel presents a concise vision of Port William's "membership.


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    The tale is told in the voice of an old woman twice widowed, who has experienced much loss yet has never been defeated. Somehow, lying at the center of her strength is the "membership"—the fact that people care for each other and, even in absence, hold each other in a kind of presence.

    Andy Catlett, age nine, makes his first solo journey to visit with both sets of grandparents in Port William. The New York Times reviewer notes, "What the grown-up Andy recalls of that experience is transformed into 'a sort of homage' to a now-vanished world. Title characters from Berry's earlier Port William volumes — Jayber Crow, Old Jack, Hannah Coulter — appear here in affectionate cameos as the adult Andy, echoing Wordsworth, observes that 'in my memory, all who were there From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia. Wendell Berry is an American writer of essays, fiction and poetry.

    Poetry portal. Berry biography". National Endowment for the Humanities. Retrieved April 26, Dayton Daily News. August 12, Retrieved August 12, Lexington Herald-Leader. Retrieved March 24, New York: Library of America. My Conversation with Gurney Norman. Retrieved July 30, The New Yorker. Retrieved July 13, Wendell Berry.

    New York: Twayne. New York: Timken. Archived from the original PDF on December 3, October 17, I'm not a Baptist in any formal way. I go to the Baptist church, where my wife plays the piano, on days of bad weather. On days of good weather, I ramble off into the woods somewhere.

    I am a person who takes the Gospel seriously, but I have had trouble conforming my thoughts to a denomination. New York: Pantheon. The church and all of our institutions have failed to oppose the destruction of the world. Well, Christendom is all right, but it doesn't have to exclude everybody else. It doesn't have to go to war against them. The Long-Legged House.

    Washington, D. Counterpoint published The Gift of Good Land. Berkeley: Counterpoint, November 4, Retrieved August 22, He was praised by many socialists, including Upton Sinclair who compared him to Abraham Lincoln. But Hearst ultimately failed both as an entrepreneur and as a leader. He had rarely been an innovator in publishing, and others now beat him at his own game with more pictures, livelier writing, and more appealing politics.

    He lost touch with his blue-collar readers, denouncing the New Deal and mounting quixotic assaults on communists. He had overexpanded in the s and spent recklessly on art and real estate. By he had lost control of his holdings. He sold part of his art collection and stopped construction on his fabled San Simeon estate in California. Of the forty-two papers he had bought or established, seventeen remained by At the end of his life, Hearst still headed the largest news conglomerate in America, but this was a measure of his capital, not of his business acumen or the quality of his journalism.

    The film Citizen Kane suggests that Hearst was the victim of psychological trauma, had suffered for his abuses of power, and had outlived his time. The historical record supports only the last observation. Eric Foner and John A.

    Selected Early Poems of William Carlos Williams Full Audiobook by William Carlos WILLIAMS

    Garraty, Editors. All rights reserved. But if you see something that doesn't look right, click here to contact us! Subscribe for fascinating stories connecting the past to the present. He starred at the Democratic convention with his Cross of Gold speech that favored free silver, but was defeated in his bid to become U. Bryan lost The political and religious leader Roger Williams c.