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The Pursuit Of Happiness and Others

Three splendid new publications which are worth looking out for:


Laurie Duggan’s new collection of poems from Shearsman, The Pursuit of Happiness, has just appeared and as Tony Baker’s comment on the back cover makes so clear these poems have the virtue of never abandoning the local. They shift from Robert Creeley, burgers and South African wine on Charing Cross Road to images of Santa Claus in Anglo-Greek Paphos and Japanese tourist signs in the countryside of Haworth.


Another distinctive voice from Australian poetry is Ken Bolton whose Selected Poems 1975-2010 has also just appeared from Shearsman: ‘slippery, rapid-fire conjunctions—from savage to deflationary, pathetic to hilarious…there’s a deeply serious–& flip, gauche, & witty & almost self-canceling—consciousness at work’.


Selected Letters of Michael Rumaker is an absolute delight from Lost & Found: The CUNY Poetics Document Initiative. Under the general editorship of Ammiel Alcalay these finely produced chapbooks  illuminate unexplored terrain of an essential chapter of 20th-century life. In this one there are letters to Robert Creeley, Donald Allen and Charles Olson with many references to Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan, and John Wieners alongside many others.

Laurie Duggan’s Allotments

Laurie Duggan’s Allotments

On Tuesday night in Darwin College, Canterbury, Laurie Duggan gave a poetry reading and I was struck time and again by that tone of voice which merges warmth and mischievous humour with an unflinching seriousness of concern with the human. He read from his recent publication Allotments, a little volume which I reviewed last November on Todd Swift’s EYEWEAR blogzine and also from his Shearsman collection, Crab & Winkle, the title of which is taken from the 1830 ‘Invicta’ locomotive which carried 300 excited passengers from Canterbury to Whitstable. Any temptation to see this poetry as ‘local’ is soon dispelled when you recognise that the range of literary reference throughout the sequences is enormous as the poet weaves from Charles Olson to Donald Allen, Rimbaud to Camus, Susan Howe to Philip Whalen and from Robert Frost to the sly brevity of ‘Allotment 9’ with its glance at Keats and Eliot:

the small gnats

have ceased to wail;

dogwood’s leaves lost

red branches bared

Allotments is published by Fewer & Further Press and the cover by Basil King links this little volume with the world of Andrew Crozier’s Ferry Press where the Black Mountain artist had done the cover for Stephen Jonas’s Transmutations in 1966. Duggan’s new volume of poems, The Pursuit of Happiness, will be available from Shearsman within the next couple of weeks.

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