Friday, September 14, 2012

Paul Blackburn

[Paul Blackburn photographed by Elsa Dorfman]

Poet, translator, pioneering audio-phile, Paul Blackburn (1926-1971), is celebrated today with a whole slew of Blackburn links. One might begin, perhaps, with the EPC collection (poems, translations, articles on line, sound files, secondary material ("about the author")). Singularly, "about the author" is a feature put together, posthumously, in October 2000, for Jacket magazine. Modern American Poetry (courtesy Cary Nelson) is another portal to relevant Blackburn sites. Edie Jarolim's wonderful The Collected Poems of Paul Blackburn (from 1985) is obviously the text to have at hand, but it's not so easy to find these days. Fortunately, the shorter Selected Poems, published four years later, is more readily available. Blackburn's papers (including his legendary tape-collection - for more on that, see here) are happily in the keeping of the University of California at San Diego's Special Collection. And so to audio - as ever, the incomparable PennSound - you can hear Blackburn reading in 1968 at Bard College,
and in 1971 at SUNY Cortland, as well as a reading (presumably from San Francisco) around that same time, from Robert Creeley's collection. Here's Creeley on Blackburn - here and here.
Here's Jerome Rothenberg on Paul Blackburn. Here's three illuminating interviews, the first, from Contemporary Literature, the second, from New York Quarterly, and the third (similarly from New York Quarterly, addressing another crucial part of Blackburn-the-poet - Blackburn-as-translator (remarks given in the form of answers to a questionnaire)). Proensa, his translations (post-Pound) of the seminal Provencal Troubadour poets is an essential volume that should be on your bookshelves, right next to the woefully-neglected Collected.


  1. What a wonderful picture -- I've never seen it before and I thought I'd seen them all. Do you know what year it was taken and what archive it's in? By coincidence, I just blogged yesterday about putting together the Collected Poems (among other projects)-- and I was looking for a picture of the book to put on the post. There wasn't one on Amazon or on the Persea books site, where I was surprised to discover it was no longer available.

    Anyway, thanks for this lovely surprise -- and for the nice words about the book.

  2. Hi Edie - The photographer is (I hope we've made it clear with proper credit) the wonderful Elsa Dorfman. A click on her name should direct you to the recent post we made on her - her web-site, however is a "must-visit" - - contact her there about all of her wonderful photographs (permissions and everything) - Ellie Dorfman - a "national treasure"!