Gwendolyn Brooks, Selected Poems (New York, 1963). -Blacks (Chicago, 1991).
B. J. Bolden, Urban Rage in Bronzeville: Social Commentary in the Poetry of Gwendolyn
Brooks, 1945-1960 (Chicago, 1998). Harry B. Shaw, Gwendolyn Brooks (Boston, 1980).
Born in Oakland, California, Robert Duncan was an early figure in the San Francisco Renaissance, and was also associated with the Black Mountain College poets of the 1950s. In the 1960s he established himself as an important poet with three books of poetry characteristically learned, intense, and visionary. His critical reception has nevertheless been mixed, with some contemporary poets viewing him as a major voice in postmodern poetry, while others have found his work too studied and even pretentious. Important influences on his poetry are the work of Pindar, Dante, Blake, Gertrude Stein, Pound, and H.D.
Duncan's mother died soon after his birth (a powerful later poem on his sense of connection to her is "My Mother Would Be a Falconress"). His father was forced to put him up for adoption, and he was brought up by devout theosophists who changed his name from Edward Howard Duncan to Robert Edward Symmes. In 1941 he returned to his birth surname. His Theosophist upbringing informs the power that Duncan's poetry gives to dreams, myths, visions, and what he calls in The Truth and Life of Myth "a kind of magic." The visionary scope of Duncan's poetry is captured in the title of his first book, Heavenly City, Earthly City (1947).
Duncan enrolled at the University of California, Berkeley, in 1936, but left in 1938 and moved to the east coast to join his male lover. In 1940 Duncan joined a small commune in Woodstock, New York, whose members included
Was this article helpful?