Robin Blaser reads most poems from Cups (Four Seasons Press, 1968), Charms (1964-1968) and Image-Nations 5-14 (1967-1974) collected later in The Holy Forest (Coach House Press, 1993), and from The Moth Poem (Open Space, 1964) as well as his essay “The Fire”, later collected in The Fire: Collected Essays of Robin Blaser (University of California Press, 2006).

Introducer - Roy Kiyooka

00:00:00.00

It's my pleasure this evening to introduce to you Robin Blaser, recently of Vancouver, and a little bit before that, from San Francisco and elsewhere. Can you hear me? Can you all hear me? Okay. Well, I haven't really a great deal to say, I wanted to say simply that I met Robin Blaser in June of 1964, the occasion was the usual round of parties and a rather un-memorable reading, and a marvelous day out into the countryside, and I also had on that occasion the pleasure of meeting two very close friends of his, Stan Persky and Jack Spicer. I'll read you this little sort of resume of his career. He was born in Idaho, and he studied at Northwestern and Berkeley, and was a librarian at Harvard from 1955 to '59. He now teaches in exile at Simon Fraser University, has made an important contribution to the San Francisco poetry renaissance in the '50's and the '60's, and was one of a triumvirate, with Duncan and Spicer, that fulminated the serial poem on the poetry scene. Among his own serial poems are “The Faerie Queen” and “Image Nation”. His verse has been published in a number of contemporary poetry anthologies. They include, among many, Donald Allen's The New American Poetry, the Penguin New Writing in the United States, and A Controversy of Poets. And among his volumes of poetry are The Boston Poems 1956-58, The Moth Poem, Les Chimeres, and Cups. He is the editor of a West Coast magazine called the Pacific Nation. Now, Robin? Please read for us.

 

Annotation

00:02:56.90

Applause.

 

Robin Blaser

00:03:00.42

The marvelous thing about that list of books is that The Boston Poems, in fact, I think I will read one of those, was published and I decided I didn't like the book so there's one copy in the world and I own that copy. So I'm not sure it's fair, to call that a book. I don't think I--but I think I will read, open with that, it now dates back so many years, back to the Boston world, when [Jack] Spicer, and [John] Wieners and I were there together, and a very different scene from anything. [Charles] Olson was at Black Mountain, and Wieners in the centre at Boston. This poem is "The Hunger of Sound," and the date of it would be 1956.

 

Annotation

00:03:54.64

Reads "The Hunger of Sound" [INDEX: serial poem, poetry, child, image, star, hunger, tree, time, sound, poem, man, wife, house, boy, Dante, book, German, gun, work, chaos, joy]

 

Robin Blaser

00:10:38.35

Now I, I'm a little confused because I've changed the reading now because it was very nice to have people ask for things, so I think I'll read "Cups," which is a...I've worked since 1960 on a book called The Holy Forest and that is composed of several serial poems, the first of which is "Cups," and that is followed by one called "The Park," and one called "The Faerie Queen," then "The Moth Poem," and then the, then there is a group, translated from Gerard de Nerval, "Les Chimeres," which is also a serial poem, and finally a group called "The Holy Forest," an unfinished group, and I thought I would read "Cups" and then a section, do a little thing on my poetics, an intermission, and then read, if you still are with me, the section I've just finished, called "The Holy Forest." This is "Cups."

 

Annotation

00:11:47.96

Reads "Cups" [INDEX: serial poem, cup, nature, iris, flower, tree, poem, poetry, window, sex, Dante, love, spring, truck, goat, father, hunter, blood, dark, semen, skin, whistle, sound]

 

Robin Blaser

00:22:58.58

Now I'm going to move to my essay called "The Fire," which is meant to, is meant to talk about what people call poetics, I guess. It certainly talks about what I intend to do, what I am doing.

 

Annotation

00:23:28.69

Reads "The Fire" [an essay] [INDEX: poetry, poetics, sight, sound, intellect, Louis Zukofsky, San Francisco, invisibility, emotion, body, earth, god, reality, conceptual, difficulty, image, conceptual, Persky, imagination, language, Charles Olson, Walden, Melville, Pound, narrative, Jack Spicer, Ovid]

 

Annotation

00:31:57.13

Recording ends, mid-phrase, on first CD.

 

Annotation

00:31:57.13

Recording recommences on second CD; unknown amount of time elapsed.

 

Robin Blaser

00:31:57.13

Continues reading "The Fire Essay" [INDEX: family, idiom, English, American, French, Orphic, Orpheus, Dionysus, Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, imagery, Leibniz, Spinoza, Francis Yeats, monads, Nerval]

 

Annotation

00:42:33.62

Some squeaking is heard on recording, as if from tape reel, starting at this point;

 

Robin Blaser

00:43:29.04

I won't go on to the rest of the essay, I think that's enough. Now...should we have a break, for a minute? Is it the right time for a break? Do you want a break? Because the next section has thirty-two poems, and not great long ones, but it's a move through the...

 

Annotation

00:43:57.17

Cut/Edit made in tape, mid-phrase; unknown amount of time elapsed.

 

Annotation

00:43:57.25

Reads ["...the drive to the spring mountains"] (beginning lost on recording). [INDEX: nature, drive, tree, heart, love, stone, song, star, forest, fire, night, translation.]

 

Annotation

00:44:17.14

Reads “The Prints” [INDEX: Nerval, prince, tree, fantasy, heart]

 

Annotation

00:44:47.88

Reads “Love” [INDEX: water, love, night]

 

Annotation

00:45:18.57

Reads "The Private I" [IMAGE: dog, moon, wind, white, black, earth, water, wind]

 

Annotation

00:46:18.32

Reads "Song" [INDEX: Nerval, song, night, horse]

 

Annotation

00:46:52.56

Reads "Translation" [INDEX: ash, Mount St. Helen's, fire, tree]

 

Annotation

00:47:23.14

Reads "1st Tale, Lost" [INDEX: sweet, child, tale, bird, sound]

 

Annotation

00:48:09.01

Reads "2nd Tale, Returned" [INDEX: brother, sister, child, fear, story, water, love, magic, air, found]

 

Annotation

00:49:48.01

Reads "At Last" [INDEX: place, tree, story, youth, body]

 

Annotation

00:50:29.78

Reads "Aphrodite of the Leaves" [INDEX: city, light, Aphrodite, place]

 

Annotation

00:51:02.47

Reads "Winter Words" [INDEX: fountain, silence, cold, invisible]

 

Annotation

00:51:39.53

Reads "The Stories" [INDEX: table, supper, sound, imagination, taste, radio]

 

Annotation

00:52:23.02

Reads "The City" [INDEX: lover, city, Wandering Jew, voice, water, radio, light, fountain]

 

Annotation

00:53:12.96

Reads "The Translator: A Tale" [INDEX: water, circle, tale, translation, shadow, sex, moth, flight]

 

Annotation

00:54:31.44

[inaudible] Reads ["...and returns, it is easy to personify"] [INDEX: head, personification, woman, love, disease, nature, moon, Blake, star, city, place, Odyssey, story, night, word]

 

Annotation

00:56:34.45

Reads "A Gift: Homage to Creeley" [INDEX: room, house, table, soul, city, language, Wells Fargo, poet, love]

 

Annotation

00:57:30.85

Reads "Bottom's Dream" [INDEX: Shakespeare, A Midsummer Night's Dream, Bottom, solitude, translation, city, love, glass]

 

Annotation

00:58:18.78

Reads "The Finder" [INDEX: tree, window, English Bay, Vancouver, ship, body, blood, intellect, violence, death, glass]

 

Annotation

00:59:35.06

Reads "Out of the Window, the Sea is a Fire" [INDEX: nature, earth, sea, fire, heart, city, building, loss, invisible]

 

Annotation

01:00:45.85

Reads "Merlin" [INDEX: action, blackbird, glass, companion, house, window, tree, unity, poetry, city, future, movement]

 

Annotation

01:01:44.15

Reads "The Cry of Merlin" (unfinished reading on recording) [INDEX: stone, blue, spiritual, image, man, room, story, sea, sex, body, love, radio, Daphne]

 

Annotation

01:03:55.35

Break/distortion in tape; recording recommences mid-phrase as Blaser introduces his last work.

 

Robin Blaser

01:03:57.69

I stood between the two in the marriage ceremony and replaced the psalms that are given, at one point, that was my gift as well as my blessing, and this is the poem I wrote for that wedding. "Image Nation 6: a marriage poem for Gladys Hindmarch and Cliff Anston."

 

Annotation

01:04:15.17

Reads "Image Nation 6: a marriage poem for Gladys Hindmarch and Cliff Anston." [INDEX: marriage, tree, Gladys Hindmarch, Cliff Anston, vision, gift, occasional poem, ring, unity, image, invisible]

 

Robin Blaser

01:05:27.21

Thank you.

 

Annotation

01:05:30.16

END OF RECORDING.

Robin Blaser at SGWU, 1969

Tape
Catalog numberI086-11-005
Duration01:05:30.16
Sound qualityGood
Reading
SpeakersRobin Blaser, introduced by Roy Kiyooka
VenueUnknown
DateMar. 28, 1969
Timestamps

00:00- Roy Kiyooka introduces Robin Blaser , A controversy of poets (Doubleday/ Anchor Books, 1965), poetry volumes The Boston Poems 1956-58 (self-published?), The Moth Poem (Open Space, 1964), Les Chimeres (White Rabbit Press, 1965), Cups (Four Seasons Foundation, 1968), editor of The Pacific Nation.]

03:00- Robin Blaser introduces “The Hunger of Sound”.

03:54- Reads “The Hunger of Sound”

10:38- Introduces “Cups”.

11:47- Reads “Cups”.

22:58- Introduces essay “The Fire”.

23:28- Reads essay “The Fire”. Persky, imagination, language, Charles Olson, Walden, Melville, Pound, narrative, Jack Spicer, Ovid]

31:57- Robin Blaser continues reading “The Fire” essay.  

43:28- Robin Blaser stops reading essay, introduces intermission

43:57- Cut in tape, unknown amount of time elapsed

43:57- Robin Blaser reads line “...the drive to the spring mountains...” recording starts mid-poem

44:17- Reads “The Prints”.

44:47- Reads “Love”.

45:18- Reads “The Private I”

46:18- Reads "Song"

46:52- Reads "Translation"

47:23- Reads "1st Tale, Lost"

48:08- Reads "2nd Tale, Returned"

49:47- Reads ":At Last"

50:29- Reads "Aphrodite of the Leaves"

51:02- Reads "Winter Words"

51:39- Reads "The Stories"

52:22- Reads "The City"

53:12- Reads "The Translator: A Tale"

54:31- Reads unknown poem first line

56:34- Reads "A Gift: Homage to Creeley"

57:30- Reads "Bottom's Dream"

58:18- Reads "The Finder"

59:34- Reads "Out of the Window"

01:00:45- Reads "Merlin"

01:01:44- Reads "The Cry of Merlin" (unfinished reading on recording)  

01:03:55- Break/distortion in tape; recording recommences mid-phrase as Blaser introduces his last work.

01:03:57- Introduces “Image Nation 6: a marriage poem for Gladys Hindmarch and Cliff Anston”

01:04:15- Reads “Image Nation 6: a marriage poem for Gladys Hindmarch and Cliff Anston”

01:05:27- Robin Blaser thanks audience.

01:05:30- END OF RECORDING.

References

Works Cited

 

Blaser, Robin. Cups. San Francisco: Four Seasons Press, 1968.

---. The Holy Forest. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1993.

---. The Fire: Collected Essays of Robin Blaser. Miriam Nichols (ed). Berkley: University of California Press, 2006.

 

Bowering, George, ed. The Contemporary Canadian Poem Anthology. Toronto: Coach House Press, 1984.

Thesen, Sharon. “Blaser, Robin”. The Oxford Companion to Canadian Literature. Ed. Eugene Benson and William Toye. Oxford University Press, 2001. Oxford Reference Online. Concordia University Library, Montreal. November 11, 2009.  <http://0-www.oxfordreference.com.mercury.concordia.ca/views/ENTRY.html?subview=Main&entry=t201.e130 >.

 

“Blaser, Robin”. Literature Online Biography. Proquest Inc, 2008. Concordia University Library, Montreal. November 11, 2009. <http://0-gateway.proquest.com.mercury.concordia.ca/openurl?ctx_ver=Z39.88-2003&xri:pqil:res_ver=0.2&res_id=xri:lion-us&rft_id=xri:lion:ft:ref:BIO027313:0>.

 

“Blaser- Robin Francis, 1925-2009”. The Vancouver Sun. Saturday, May 9, 2009. Page F14. Simon Fraser University Website. November 24, 2009. <http://www.sfu.ca/retirees/in_memoriam/robin_blaser/blaser.htm>.

 

Transcription by Rachel Kyne

Print Catalogue, Research, Introduction and Edits by Celyn Harding-Jones

 


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