Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Aimless Reading: The D's, Part 43.4 (Robert Duncan)

Duncan, Robert
Fictive Certainties

I think I bought this at Talking Leaves after having met with Robert Creeley. We were talking about some aspect of my poetry and he pulled this book out of his blue plastic suitcase and said something like, "Well, as dear old Robert Duncan said..." and began reading from the essay, "The Truth and Life of Myth."

I remember a story Rosmarie Waldrop once told me about Duncan. She and her husband Keith were living in Michigan and they threw a party in their home, presumably after a poetry reading. One of the poets there was Robert Duncan. The other was, of all people, W.D. Snodgrass. Both were such outsize personalities that they had to be separated into different parts of the house, each with their own private, captive audience. Snodgrass, who was at the time interested in singing, I think, Medieval or Renaissance songs while playing the guitar, was put on the porch with his audience. Duncan, who was known for his logorrhea, was put into the living room, where he could discourse uninterrupted, to his own. Neither shared the same room a throughout the whole party!

from The Truth and Life of Myth

Myth is the story told of what cannot be told, as mystery is the scene revealed of what cannot be revealed, and the mystic gnosis the thing known that cannot be known. The myth-teller beside himself with the excitement of the dancers sucks in the inspiring breath and moans, muttering against his willful lips; for this is not a story of what he thinks or wishes life to be, it is the story that comes to him and forces his telling.


Anonymous said...

Well... knowing how well my late husband loved to sing his early music translations while playing the lute, I can imagine that this actually happened.
Kathy Snodgrass

Michael Kelleher, Buffalo, NY said...

Kathy -- thanks for the correction. Playing the lute sounds more apropos. I couldn't remember which instrument it was, so just guessed it was guitar.