Full-program video: Dale Smith, on Robert Duncan and Charles Olson: February 8, 2018
Video highlight clips: Smith reads two early letters (1947 and 1948) from Charles Olson to Robert Duncan | Smith historicizing and speaking to "white structures of feeling," and a "fearless self-engagement" whereby "[Robert] Duncan and [Charles] Olson ask, 'how do we listen at the interface of our selves within the mania of the nation?'"
Poet-scholar Dale Smith returns to San Francisco, from his present home in Toronto, to talk about Robert Duncan and Charles Olson, and what’s revealed in their correspondence: “one of the foundational literary exchanges of twentieth-century American poetry. The 130 letters collected in this volume begin in 1947 just after the two poets first meet in Berkeley, California, and continue to Olson’s death in January 1970. Both men initiated a novel stance toward poetry, and they matched each other with huge accomplishments, an enquiring, declarative intelligence, wide-ranging interests in history and occult literature, and the urgent demand to be a poet.” More here. Smith also read from his own recent poetry.
Dale Smith is a poet, critic, and scholar of poetry and poetics on the faculty of English at Ryerson University, Toronto. He is the editor, with the late Robert J. Bertholf, of An Open Map: The Correspondence of Robert Duncan and Charles Olson and Imagining Persons: Robert Duncan's Lectures on Charles Olson (both University of New Mexico Press). A critical study of poetry and public culture, Poets Beyond the Barricade: Rhetoric, Citizenship, and Dissent after 1960 (University of Alabama), was published in 2012. Smith’s writing has appeared in The Baffler, Best American Poetry 2002, Colorado Review, Columbia Poetry Review, Denver Quarterly, The Walrus, and elsewhere. A recent book of poetry, Sons, was published by Knife/Fork/Book, Toronto, and Slow Poetry in America was released by Cuneiform in 2014; other poetry includes American Rambler (2000); The Flood & the Garden (2002); Black Stone (2007); and Susquehanna (2008). Recent reviews, essays, and other writing can be found in the Boston Review, the Los Angeles Review of Books, Brick, and Poetry. In the 1990s, Smith attended the New College of California, in San Francisco, where he met Joanne Kyger, Philip Whalen, Bill Berkson, David Meltzer, and other West Coast writers. Born in Dallas, Texas, Smith has resided in Ontario since 2011. Photo of Dale Smith by Jeff Kirby.