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Long before Robert Bly became a cultural icon as a leading light of the Men's Movement, he was shaking up the world of poetry with a
"little magazine," published from his farm in western Minnesota, that celebrated the deep imagery of European and South American poets while playfully mocking the often tepid and academic work of his American colleagues. This is the story of that literary revolution, the effects of which are with us to this day.
Author Gustafson draws upon Bly's literary and personal correspondence, private papers, and the publications themselves to paint an indelible portrait of an artist driven by unusual ideas of expression rooted in earthiness, myth, open forms, and social conscience. Bly's iconoclastic tendencies bring plenty of spice to critical exchanges with James Dickey, Donald Hall, Denise Levertov, Tomas Transtromer, Gary Snyder, and many other eminent poets at a time when the more formal and conservative aesthetic of the Pound/Eliot cadre and the hyper-technical analysis of the New Critics were proving themselves inadequate to the changing times.
Using the issues of The Fifties and The Sixties as guideposts, Gustafson explores Bly's courageous stance against the Vietnam War, his principled response to receiving the National Book Award, the technical challenges of financing and printing a "little" magazine from the prairies of western Minnesota, and other adventures, with flashes of humor brightening many turns in the path.
In Robert Bly's eighty-third year, to celebrate acquisition
of his archives, the University of Minnesota sponsored a major conference, Robert Bly in This World. This book is the record of that historic event. Scholars and authors from America and England presented papers on Bly’s poetry, translations, criticism, storytelling, and other major achievements, including his annual Great Mother and Minnesota Men’s conferences. Weighing in on every aspect of Bly's career are many friends and critics, including Coleman Barks, Jane Hirshfield, Lewis Hyde, Gioia Timpanelli, and Leonard Lewisohn. Mike Hazard's documentary on Bly, A Man Writes to a Part of Himself, is included as a DVD supplement to this uniquely insightful volume.
Special Offer: Purchase this hardcover book first edition online for $29.95 plus shipping at Ally Press Center:
Understanding Robert Bly (William Virgil Davis)
This lucid small volume helpfully comments on all of Bly's books of poetry. Poet William Virgil Davis brings a deep knowledge of Bly's work to his analysis.
The Incorporative Consciousness of Robert Bly (Victoria Harris)
The subject of this scholarly essay is Robert Bly's tendency to preserve or incorporate in his work what has been rejected by the dominant consciousness and culture. This tendency has motivated his defenses of feminine consciousness and the sacred in nature. The most academic of the published works about Bly, this discussion is tough going but worth wrestling with for its insights into the values underlying Bly's thought.
Robert Bly: An Introduction to the Poetry (Howard Nelson)
This volume in Columbia University's "Introduction to 20th Century American Poetry" series still provides the best critical overview of Bly's poetry. Nelson, a poet himself, discusses in nonacademic prose each of Bly's volumes through The Man in the Black Coat Turns, using insightful analysis to render Bly's thought more accessible.
Robert Bly: When Sleepers Awake (edited by Joyce Peseroff)
This excellent critical anthology, part of the University of Michigan Press "Under Discussion" series, is a must for any serious student of Bly's work. It's loaded with major essays by Charles Molesworth, Charles Altieri, James F. Mersmann, Victoria Harris, and Wayne Dodd. Gathers much of the most significantly scholarly and critical work on Bly's career as a poet.
Robert Bly: A Bibliography (William Roberson)
The size and scope of this fat volume is even more amazing when one realizes it only goes up to 1986. Undoubtedly an equally large work would be required to track Bly's multitudinous appearances in print since that time. In invaluable guide to Bly's early and middle years of publication, including many, many obscure poems, essays, and translations. Indispensable for the serious student or collector.
Walking Swiftly: Writings and Images on the Occasion of Robert Bly's 65th Birthday (edited by Thomas R. Smith)
This collection, honoring Bly's 65th birthday in 1991, gathers friends and colleagues from each phase of Bly's career, for a uniquely intimate in-the-round view of Bly as man, artist, and thinker. The over 40 contributors to this handsome designed volume include Michael Ventura, Galway Kinnell, Jane Kenyon, James Hillman, and Marion Woodman.
Robert Bly (Richard P. Sugg)
This entry in Twayne's World Author Series is a clear and valuable introduction to Robert Bly's poetry.
A Man Writes to a Part of Himself: Robert Bly
(Mike Hazard and Greg Pratt)
A video documentary on the poet, including poems by Rumi, Kabir, Neruda, Yeats. Produced by Greg Pratt and Mike Hazard. 57:30
ordering information: Center for International Education