Poetry News

Lamantia's Collected Poems Is on the Way

By Harriet Staff


This must be the year of collected poems by neglected masters. Or at least that's the case with the much anticipated collecteds by Joseph Ceravolo and Philip Lamantia. We've expressed our enthusiasms for Ceravolo a couple of times here and here, and now we're overjoyed to see Lamantia's collected will be coming out this summer! From the UC Press site:

The Collected Poems of Philip Lamantia represents the lifework of the most visionary poet of the American postwar generation. Philip Lamantia (1927-2005) played a major role in shaping the poetics of both the Beat and the Surrealist movements in the United States. First mentored by the San Francisco poet Kenneth Rexroth, the teenage Lamantia also came to the attention of the French Surrealist leader André Breton, who, after reading Lamantia’s youthful work, hailed him as a “voice that rises once in a hundred years.” Later, Lamantia went “on the road” with Jack Kerouac and shared the stage with Allen Ginsberg at the famous Six Gallery reading in San Francisco, where Ginsburg first read “Howl.” Throughout his life, Lamantia sought to extend and renew the visionary tradition of Romanticism in a distinctly American vernacular, drawing on mystical lore and drug experience in the process. The Collected Poems gathers not only his published work but also an extensive selection of unpublished or uncollected work; the editors have also provided a biographical introduction.

To whet your palate a bit more, we went digging through a few past issues of Poetry and found these three reviews. The first from 1947 is less than enthusiastic of Lamantia's Erotic Poems, and is unappreciative of their surrealist edge. To our ears "I am a criminal when your body is bare upon the universe" sounds mighty fine, thank you. The second from 1967 is by Tom Clark who finds much to admire in Lamantia's Touch of the Marvelous. He quotes a poem in full written when Lamantia was between fifteen and seventeen. And coincidentally, in the same review Clark looks at Ceravolo's Fits of Dawn, from Ted Berrigan's "C" Press. Finally, John R. Carpenter's review of The Blood of the Air appears in the June 1972 issue.

Originally Published: March 12th, 2013