Friday, May 08, 2009

Robin Blaser, 1925-2009

Sad news last night via the Buffalo Poetics list that Robin Blaser had passed away. He was one of the last great figures of the generation that pioneered the "New American Poetry" in the 1950s, and after. His collected poems, The Holy Forest, is a major achievement, and his readings and talks on poetry, many of them happily preserved by his long-time friend Robert Creeley, reveal a profound critical intelligence and a vision of amazing breadth.

Simon Fraser University, where he taught for much of his life, routinely taped lectures back in the seventies so they'd be available to students who had missed class, etc.; a few years back I tried to find out if the university had preserved any of the tapes of Robin's lectures on mythology, a signal moment in my own education. I never reached anyone who knew anything about them, and fear they were probably taped over long ago. Luckily, Warren Tallman did record some of Blaser's informal talks; transcriptions of parts of them are included in Miriam Nichols' Even on Sunday.

Blaser also literally preserved (as in, in boxes, in his basement) much of Jack Spicer's work, and his Collected Books of Jack Spicer, published in 1975, opened Spicer's work to a new generation of poets.

Adios, amigo.


Photo of Blaser by Kenneth Tarrant, from 1993.
There are some fine photos of Blaser during his Berkeley years here.

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