Showing posts with label William Corbett. Show all posts
Showing posts with label William Corbett. Show all posts

Saturday, February 01, 2014

@ Kelly Writers House

Philadelphia, 2005

Monday, September 03, 2012

Friday, June 03, 2011

I couldn’t afford On Bear’s Head, Philip Whalen’s 405-page magnum opus, when it first came out from Harcourt’s Harvest Books imprint back in 1969 (published jointly, I only noticed today, with Coyote / New York, which methinks must have meant James Koller, explaining at least in part how this reclusive Zen monk could issue a volume that large from a major trade publisher – when it came to self-promotion, Whalen was the antithesis of Tao Lin). So when finally I found a copy in pristine condition in a used book store circa 1973, I purchased it instantly & began to read through it the way a man might eat a meal they have been waiting for for years. On Bear’s Head is a completely masterful volume, still my favorite of all Whalen editions, and one that deserves to be reissued just as it was originally published.

But pretty soon thereafter, I realized that everything I was writing myself at that point was coming out suspiciously Whalen-esque. This is an effect I’ve noticed only a few times in my writing life – I get this way if I read too much Robert Duncan (especially Roots & Branches or Bending the Bow) or listen too much to Bob Dylan¹. But I’m immune largely to even the finest work by other great writers – I might love it, feel totally enthused by it, but generally I don’t find myself instantly turning into an echo, even if it’s Stein, Williams, Shakespeare or Watten. One can learn an enormous amount from inhabiting the skin of a great poet for a while, but only at a significant risk…you might not find the bread-crumb trail back home again.