Sunday, September 02, 2007

Lee Bartlett

Today I am thinking about my father, Lee Bartlett. Last night, I read sections my father's magazine, American Poetry. I was looking at Fall, 1988, the issue which is posthumously dedicated to Robert Duncan. The issue includes an interview with Bill Everson, who was friends with Duncan for forty years. Mary Fabily (whose name I am surely misspelling) was a lover/wife? of Everson and one of Duncan's closest friends. Note: Duncan, while gay, seemed to have some funky stuff going on with the ladies that is unclear to me. Everson speaks of jealous tensions surrounding the Mary -- and I have been reading simuliar stories about our beloved Ms. Levertov.

But, I don't mean to write about these guys & gals. The point is: ah, my daddy!

The deeper I get into his work, the more I realize how seminal it is/was to the world of poetry. As I have mentioned before, Talking Poetry, for example, is probably the best book of interviews with poets that I have run across. Where else is there one collection with interviews with Michael Palmer, Anne Waldman, Thom Gunn, and Clayton Eshleman? Just to name a few. In addition to a stack of books on Everson, including his biography, my father also edited/wrote/worked on DisemBodied Poetics for Naropa, a book of James Laughlin's letters, an Anthology of New Mexican poets, The Sun is But a Morning Star (which I now know comes from Duncan), the American Poetry Series (which includes books by Everson, McClure, and Tarn), his own book of poetry -- the Greenhouse Effect, the letters of Stephen Spender, a bibliography of Beat poetry, and the first essay on the Language Poets called "What is Language Poetry?" which arguably may be where the term LP derives from. & these are just a few.

It is amazing to grow up and find that something to which you never quite paid attention is so valuable to your work life. It's like growing up to be a filmmaker and finding out your mother had an affair with Woody Allen.

It frustrates me that this great work has been pushed aside. I so want to share it, not out of nepotism, not for the money or glory, but simply because IT'S REALLY GOOD. My father's work is just as important as Silliman's and Perloff's. And the older folks know and regard him well. But, I can't help but feel he's been shrugged off by the younger generation -- unless they are poetry fanatics who read EVERYTHING (Matt Hendrickson).

I think this loss is because many of the books are out of print. Also, my dad is not an internet guy. He's not even in Google! I can't help but also suspect that it's the old paranoid West-East Coast poetry thing. (Sometimes I feel like we are rappers -- oh! by the way, he wrote one of the first essays on that too!)

9 comments:

Nicole said...

Hi Lee Bartlett,
Gus Blaisdell was my father. I empathize with going thru father's paper lives. I'm wondering if you know about the poems he submitted for IN COMPANY and might have copies of the entire submission.

Nicole Blaisdell

Muser said...

I enjoyed this blog-entry very much because I know your father's work well--and because I knew your father at U.C. Davis. In fact, we played on a championship softball team together! He was the pitcher. Please know your father's work is *highly* valued by many scholars and readers of poetry. I still remember a poem of his called "fishbones" (I think). Good luck to you.

Andrés Indaburu said...

Hello Liz.

I had the privilege of attending one of your dad´s classes when I was an anthropology undergraduate in UNM.

That was almost ten years ago.

Now life has changed a lot, my wife and I live in Barcelona, we have a three year old, and I have forgotten many things, but not Lee Bartlett. That guy is unforgettable.

Take care.
Andrés
http://pisaguacomic.blogspot.com/

Colin said...

Dear Jennifer,

(If it is of any comfort to you!) I have found your father's essay 'What is Language Poetry?' the perfect diving board for reading LP.

Yours, Colin.

Running Out of Storage? said...

Jennifer, a writer's work is often valued in ways that cannot be seen or measured. I have valued your father's work since he and I were friends years ago in Davis--and later worked together in Pikeville, Kentucky. I remember him as a guy who knows pop culture--and who understands the difference between meaningful work and current popularity. Please give him my best . . . David Huwiler (huwiler@gmail.com)

TucsonBound said...

I took classes with Lee as an undergraduate at UNM, in the mid 1980's. He was deeply influential on my academic career and my career as a poet. He helped me develop as a young poet in scholar, and his work is indeed SEMINAL in regard to the Beats, the Black Mountain poets, and LANGUAGE poets. I wish his journal was more widely available. I wish I could thank him for my success. To some of us at UNM in the 80's, he was THE MAN, a poet and scholar we loved and respected.

ty said...

Hello Jennifer, belatedly I came to your blog---I am writing a MA thesis on Kenneth Rexroth at the University of Tokyo and I own your father's book on Rexroth and also the book of Rexroth-Laughlin letters that he edited. I think your father was a far-sighted scholar and his work is important.

ty said...

Hello Jennifer, belatedly I came to your blog---I am writing a MA thesis on Kenneth Rexroth at the University of Tokyo and I own your father's book on Rexroth and also the book of Rexroth-Laughlin letters that he edited. I think your father was a far-sighted scholar and his work is important.

Pablo Frasconi said...

I am trying to reach Lee Bartlett as part of research for a film on William Everson. If anyone has any info that might lead to his contact, it would be much appreciated. I know he has retired for UNM, but cannot find a current email address. Thanks! Pablo Frasconi, Professsor, USC School of Cinema Arts, Los Angeles