For Robert Duncan...the poem is a universe in itself, and a soul...


Ground Work

Poetry by Robert Duncan

With a contribution by Michael Palmer

Robert Duncan has been widely venerated as one of America’s most essential poets: Allen Ginsberg described his poetry as “rapturous wonderings of inspiration,” Gwendolyn Brooks called it “a subtle spice,” and Susan Howe pointed to Duncan as “my precursor father,” Lawrence Ferlinghetti said he “had the finest ear this side of Dante,” and Robert Creeley called him “the magister, the singular Master of the Dance.” Now Duncan’s magnum opus, Groundwork, is available in one groundbreaking edition. The first volume, Groundwork I: Before the War, was published in 1984, after a fifteen-year publishing silence, and received immediate acclaim: it was nominated for a National Book Critics Circle Award and won the first National Poetry Award for Duncan’s “lifetime devotion to the art of poetry and his grand achievement….” The second volume, Groundwork II: In the Dark, was published in February 1988, the month of Duncan’s death. The internationally renowned poet Michael Palmer has written a marvelous introduction for this new edition, where “the singlemindedness of [Duncan’s] life’s work shows itself in the confident energy of every line” (The Village Voice Literary Supplement).

Paperback(published Apr, 01 2006)

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Portrait of Robert Duncan

Robert Duncan

20th century American poet affiliated with the San Francisco Renaissance and Beat movement.

For Robert Duncan...the poem is a universe in itself, and a soul...


Robert Duncan's work has for decades been a recurrent testimony and reminder that poetry had to do with music, with vision, with the life of the soul—not to the exclusion of all else, or indeed of anything, but on the contrary as ground and environing air for whatever the range of experience may be.

Denise Levertov

Duncan believes in the demiurgic powers of poetry, restoring to it a kind of authority it has not had in a long time. One would have to go back to Dante to find such belief in angels. The angels that Rilke doubted are there for Duncan to converse with.

Andrei Codrescu, The Baltimore Sun

The poetic tradition that Duncan invokes is necessarily heretical—politically, sexually, and poetically—one which sees 'always the under side turning' in a search for the fullest definition of social order.

Michael Davidson, Los Angeles Times