Robert Duncan (Paperback)

The Collected Early Poems and Plays (The Collected Writings of Robert Duncan)

By Robert Duncan, Peter Quartermain (Editor)

University of California Press, 9780520324855, 876pp.

Publication Date: October 22, 2019

Other Editions of This Title:
Paperback (10/22/2019)
Paperback (10/22/2019)
Hardcover (1/4/2014)
Hardcover (1/27/2014)

List Price: 29.95*
* Individual store prices may vary.


A landmark in the publication of twentieth-century American poetry, this first volume of the long-awaited collected poetry, non-critical prose, and plays of Robert Duncan gathers all of Duncan’s books and magazine publications up to and including Letters: Poems 1953–1956. Deftly edited, it thoroughly documents the first phase of Duncan’s distinguished life in writing, making it possible to trace the poet’s development as he approaches the brilliant work of his middle period.

This volume includes the celebrated works Medieval Scenes and The Venice Poem, all of Duncan’s long unavailable major ventures into drama, his extensive “imitations” of Gertrude Stein, and the remarkable poems written in Majorca as responses to a series of collaged paste-ups by Duncan’s life-long partner, the painter Jess. Books appear in chronological order of publication, with uncollected periodical and other publications arranged chronologically, following each book. The introduction includes a biographical commentary on Duncan’s early life and works, and clears an initial path through the textual complexities of his early writing. Notes offer brief commentaries on each book and on many of the poems.

The volume to follow, The Collected Later Poetry and Plays, will include The Opening of the Field (1960), Roots and Branches (1964), Bending the Bow (1968), Ground Work (1984), and Ground Work II (1987).

About the Author

Peter Quartermain taught contemporary poetry and poetics at the University of British Columbia for over thirty years. He is the author of Basil Bunting, Poet of the North and Disjunctive Poetics: From Gertrude Stein and Louis Zukofsky to Susan Howe.

Praise For Robert Duncan: The Collected Early Poems and Plays (The Collected Writings of Robert Duncan)

“Relentlessly beautiful. . . . Everything seems to be here, laying the groundwork for a major career.”

— Publishers Weekly

"Reminds us that [Duncan] wrote some of the most stunningly beautiful lines in postwar American poetry."

— Micah Mattix