Jeffers & Modern American Poetry

In the 1920s and 1930s Robinson Jeffers (1887-1962) was recognized as a major American poet. In 1965, when I happened on his work in the Sebastopol Public Library (thank you, Andrew Carnegie), his collections were mostly out of print and his poems mostly absent from the major teaching anthologies that, in practice, defined the tradition. He was deemed, as one prominent critic put it, “beneath critical notice.”

In the decades since, I’ve continued to read, reflect on, and write about Jeffers’ poetry, both in its own right and for its implications for our understanding the American poetic tradition, especially in the first half of the the twentieth century. The questions posed by Jeffers’ practice have also factored into my thinking about writing as a textual medium (a strand of reflection taken up elsewhere on this site) and (least relevant here) my own poetry, and (most relevant here).

The thumbnails for The Collected Poetry, The Selected Poetry, Jim Karman’s masterful The Collected Letters, and The Point Alma Venus Manuscripts link to the Stanford University Press website pages for these projects.  Those interested in Jeffers may also want to explore the programs and resources of The Robinson Jeffers Association and The Tor House Foundation.

The links below provide access to various articles and conference papers that I’ve written over the years.  A few focus on editorial matters, and several are informed by the research involved in preparing The Collected Poetry, but most of them explore Jeffers’ poetry from various critical and historical perspectives.  In the coming year or two I expect that some of these pieces will be reworked and folded into the oft-disrupted and long-deferred book on Jeffers in the context of modern and modernist poetry.  In the meantime, they are posted here on the chance they might be of use and interest.

[This page and the material related to it is being reorganized and new material being added.  The reorganization should be completed by early December]

Articles, Notes & Papers: