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The Astonishment Tapes, The Astonishment Tapes, 0817358099, 0-8173-5809-9, 978-0-8173-5809-9, 9780817358099, , Modern and Contemporary Poetics, The Astonishment Tapes, 0817388230, 0-8173-8823-0, 978-0-8173-8823-2, 9780817388232, , Modern and Contemporary Poetic

The Astonishment Tapes
Talks on Poetry and Autobiography with Robin Blaser and Friends
by Robin Blaser
Edited by Miriam Nichols

Quality Paper
2015. 344 pp.
14 B&W illustrations
Price:  $49.95 s
E Book
2015. 344 pp.
14 B&W illustrations
Price:  $49.95 d

The edited transcript of revealing autobiographical audiotapes recorded by the groundbreaking poet Robin Blaser
Robin Blaser moved from his native Idaho to attend the University of California, Berkeley, in 1944. While there, he developed as a poet, explored his homosexuality, engaged in a lively arts community, and met fellow travelers and poets Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer. The three men became the founding members of the Berkeley core of what is now known as the San Francisco Renaissance in New American Poetry.

In the company of a small group of friends and writers in 1974, Blaser was asked to narrate his personal story and to comment on the Berkeley poetry scene. In twenty autobiographical audiotapes, Blaser talks about his childhood in Idaho, his time in Berkeley, and his participation in the making of a new kind of poetry. The Astonishment Tapes is the expertly edited transcript of these recordings by Miriam Nichols, Blaser’s editor and biographer.

In The Astonishment Tapes Blaser comments extensively on the poetic principles that he, Duncan, and Spicer worked through, as well as the differences and dissonances between the three of them. Nichols has edited the transcripts only minimally, allowing readers to make their own interpretations of Blaser’s intentions.

Sometimes gossipy, sometimes profound, Blaser offers his version on the inside story of one of the most significant moments in mid-twentieth century American poetry. The Astonishment Tapes is of considerable value and interest, not only to readers of Blaser, Duncan, and Spicer, but also to scholars of the early postmodern and twentieth-century American poetry.
Robin Blaser was a pathbreaking poet and, along with Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan, a founding member of the San Francisco Renaissance in poetry. His work has been recognized with Canada’s most distinguished literary awards—a Griffin Award for lifetime achievement and the Griffin Poetry Prize for his collected poems. He was also made a member of the Order of Canada for his contribution to the arts.

Miriam Nichols is the editor of The Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser and The Fire: Collected Essays of Robin Blaser.
“Long heralded yet elusively withheld, The Astonishment Tapes by Robin Blaser has finally found its way to publication. This first-person statement of personal poetics is a landmark text for the study of post-WWII American poetry . . ."

The Astonishment Tapes will now take its place within the growing field of international research about postwar American poetry’s important contribution to world literature. Miriam Nichols has once again done exceptional scholarship.”
—Peter Gizzi, editor of The House That Jack Built: The Collected Lectures of Jack Spicer
“One of the great pleasures of this book is the glimpse it gives of another, more private Blaser than one we encounter in his collected poems and essays.”
—Benjamin Friedlander, author of Simulcast: Four Experiments in Criticism and coeditor of Charles Olson’s Collected Prose
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