'Reading Duncan Reading' available from UI Press

'Reading Duncan Reading' available from UI Press

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Reading Duncan Reading: Robert Duncan and the Poetics of Derivation, edited by Stephen Collis and Graham Lyons, is now available from the University of Iowa Press.

reading duncan reading book cover

In Reading Duncan Reading, 13 scholars and poets examine first what and how the American poet Robert Duncan read and, perforce, what and how he wrote. Harold Bloom wrote of the searing anxiety of influence writers experience as they grapple with the burden of being original, but for Duncan this was another matter altogether. Indeed, according to Collis, “No other poet has so openly expressed his admiration for and gratitude toward his predecessors.”

Part one emphasizes Duncan’s acts of reading, tracing a variety of his derivations—including Sarah Ehlers’s demonstration of how Milton shaped Duncan’s early poetic aspirations, Siobhán Scarry’s unveiling of the many sources (including translation and correspondence) drawn into a single Duncan poem, and Clément Oudart’s exploration of Duncan’s use of “foreign words” to fashion “a language to which no one is native.”

In part two, the volume turns to examinations of poets who can be seen to in some way derive from Duncan—and so in turn reveals another angle of Duncan’s derivative poetics. J.P. Craig traces Nathaniel MacKey’s use of Duncan’s “would-be shaman,” Catherine Martin sees Duncan’s influence in Susan Howe’s “development of a poetics where the twin concepts of trespass and ‘permission’ hold comparable sway,” and Ross Hair explores poet Ronald Johnson’s “reading to steal.” These and other essays collected here trace paths of poetic affiliation and affinity and hold them up as provocative possibilities in Duncan’s own inexhaustible work.

Collis, associate professor of English at Simon Fraser University in Burnaby, British Columbia, is the author of five books of poetry, including the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize-winning On the Material and three parts of the on-going “Barricades Project”: Anarchive, The Commons, and the forthcoming To the Barricades. An activist and social critic, his writing on the Occupy movement is collected in Dispatches from the Occupation.

Lyons is a doctoral candidate at Simon Fraser University. His research traverses the 20th century, with a particular focus on cultural theory, historiography, autobiography, and the Frankfurt school of Marxism. He has published on Walter Benjamin, Louis Zukofsky, and the Star Wars films.

The book is available at bookstores or from the UI Press, 800-621-2736 or www.uiowapress.org. Customers in Europe, the Middle East, or Africa may order from Eurospan Group at www.eurospanbookstore.com.


Christopher Clair, University Communication and Marketing, 319-384-0900


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