A Letter from Charles Bukowski to Robert Bly

Back in November, I wrote about two letters from Garrison Keillor and Bill Holm I found in the University of Minnesota's Robert Bly Papers. What I didn't note is that I also found one from writer Charles Bukowski. Pulling it out of the stack was a surprise -- though it shouldn't have been given Bly's stature in the literary world at the time -- and so I made a copy of it thinking Buk's may be interested. It's not as big of a literary event as the discovery of Neal Cassady's "Joan Anderson letter," but it does include an unpublished poem. ...

Escaping the Dark Forest: Robert Bly on Deep Image Poetry.

In 1976, winner of the National Book Award and co-founder of Writers Against the Vietnam War, Robert Bly, sat down for an interview with the novelist and literary critic Ekbert Faas. Published in the magazine boundary 2, the pair discuss everything from D.H. Lawrence to Bly's criticism of Allen Ginsberg's Buddhism. (Of the latter, beneath the surface one can feel reverberations from the Merwin-Trungpa "Incident" - or, more accurately, The Great Naropa Poetry Wars). What is particularly interesting, though, is the discussion of Bly's aesthetic. Bly imagines a poetry "in which a great 'flowing' consciousness is present" that is also "aware of [the outer world] all the time." While he abhors the term "Deep Image," this is what he's suggesting and it's become the traditional label of his work. By going deep into the dark woods of one's psyche, coming out the other side aware of oneself and the world, only then can one create art that transcends both. Things like Pop Art fail to find this "adult energy of the unconscious" and as a form makes sense only as artistic "infantilization." ..