Sunday, August 01, 2010

Philip Lamantia

Above, a poem by Philip Lamantia. “Memoria,” from Semina 3, 1958. Source: http://writing.upenn.edu/library/images/semina/index.html

Lamantia’s selected poems is Bed of Sphinxes: New & Selected Poems, 1943-1993 (City Lights, 1997).

Some more Lamantia poems here, and some other writings (including poems) here. But his very best poems (at least the best ones in my opinion) don’t seem to be online.

Lamantia is commonly categorized as both a Beat and a Surrealist, with good reason (published in View and by André Breton in VVV at age 16; took part in the Six Gallery reading in San Francisco in 1955). But these categories don’t matter so much as whether his poems are any good, and what they’re like, and what it’s like to read them. Titles of Lamantia poems can perhaps suggest what he’s like: “Man Is in Pain,” “In a Grove,” “Hypodermic Light,” “The Ancients Have Returned Among Us,” “Interior Suck of the Night,” “Isn’t Poetry the Dream of Weapons?” Isn’t it?

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