Saturday, October 8, 2011
The Selected Letter of George Oppen
Purchased at Talking Leaves Books.
Strange, this is one of those books I remember buying but don't remember reading. I am sure I have read it, but flipping through it just now not a single memory, save one or two of the included photos, came back to me. I left no bookmark inside, made no underlinings or markings of any kind on its pages.
Yet here it is. It's been in my library for over a decade.
It's not like Oppen isn't important to me, either–he is. Maybe I didn't take anything useful away from the reading of his letters. Maybe they just weren't interesting. Maybe I was half asleep when I read them. Who knows?
It makes me kind of sad and also anxious when I return to the past and can't seem to find myself there.
from The Selected Letter of George Oppen
You will inevitably see, in my shy or sly stories of myself above, that I invite or even urge admiration. And yet I do not seriously believe that what I have so far managed is of actual value unless I shall be able to go further--further or forward meaning toward wherever we are going. . .I am between books –that is, I have completed a book and must attempt a next step. And, tho I had thought it was clear to me, am confronted by What is it? something like a failure of nerve, of simple nerve. I have persistently told creative writing classes that I have no reason to suppose that poetry is good for people, and I say that–as I imagine myself–with admirable brusque courage. But actually... I don't know that my courage is so intact, and certainly not so brusque.
(From a letter to Frederic Will, 1967)