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Anxious gatekeeping

Analogous to nervous cluelessness is something we might call “anxious gatekeeping.”   This is desire to police the borders of poetry, or of...

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Robert Duncan

I've been looking at models of prose here. Robert Duncan is a prose-writer I am not excessively fond of, but he is capable of powerful writing like this:

The first experience in poetry is to find in words not an argument or an explanation but a world, to see an other world or to be of an other world. Here definitions are not restrictions but outlines of possible elements of that world. When Robert Browning's dramatic monologues, instead of being taken as mere literature or examples of the poet's accomplishments or speeches for an actor to deliver, were taken as events contributing to an event in my own being, I had caught the poetic mode of being, a contagion, and "came down with" poetry.


It has Duncan's voice--even in its various awkardnesses. You can hear the voice of Emerson lurking behind him. It's not a model I would emulate, in vocabulary, structure, or tone, but it sounds like him, Duncan. It is very personal and self-confident.

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