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!)