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                                          "If there is any truth at all"



               In  Berkeley  my  writing  stopped  almost  entirely  as  I  concentrated  on
               graduate  school  or  participated  in  that  explosion  of  energy  we  call  "the
               sixties."

                                              I had hoped that Cornell would provide me with an
                                             intellectual  community.  It  did  not.  My  experience  at
                                             Berkeley  was  similar,  though  again  there  were
                                             moments  of  excitement.  Josephine  Miles,  Joseph
                                             Kramer,  Paul  Alpers,  and  others  taught  courses
                                             which  interested  me.  Henry  Nash  Smith's  course
                                             included  Charles  Feidelson,  Jr.'s  excellent  book,
                                             Symbolism  And  American  Literature,  with  its
                                             intriguing discussions of Melville, Poe and Whitman.
                                             A 1971 class taught by James Breslin introduced me



               to many writers whom I had previously neglected, particularly to William Carlos
               Williams, whose masterly Spring and All was on the reading list. We also read
               Robert  Duncan's  magnificent  Bending  the  Bow.  (I  had  bought  Duncan's
               Selected  Poems  in  Ithaca  and  been  fascinated  by  "The  Venice  Poem"  and
               "Homage  to  the  Brothers  Grimm.")  Duncan  lived  in  San  Francisco  and  often
               gave  lectures  and  readings.  I  saw  him  frequently  in  Berkeley  going  to  the
               bookstores  or  the  library.  There  were  also  writers  in  Breslin's  class:  Ron
               Silliman, David Melnick and Rochelle Nameroff had all recently published books

               through a press called "Ithaca
               House,"  located,  ironically

               enough,          at       Cornell.
               Furthermore,  James  Breslin
               was  the  judge  of  Berkeley's
               Yang  Poetry  Prize  that  year,
               and  a  little  selection  of  my
               poems  was  one  of  the
               winners.  Still,  I  could  hardly
               call myself a writer. By 1970 I
               was really nothing more than                          Jack Foley's  drawing of Robert Duncan
               a     professional       graduate      By 1974 I had finally had enough of graduate
               student.                               school.
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