Tuesday, September 8, 2009

Robinson Jeffers and Big Sur

"NO major American poet has been treated worse by posterity than Robinson Jeffers," poet/critic dana gioia wrote in 1987, lamenting the lack of scholarly attention, an up-to-date selected poems, or a full-dress biography of this california writer who was once read voraciously and still inspires environmentalists.

a few things have changed since then, but the great poet of california's central coast is still widely overlooked. HERE is my humble attempt to try to bring this austere and charismatic man some attention. this is basically a travel piece about big sur and carmel, but with jeffers's life, work and times -- mostly the 1930s -- providing the framework.

so we visited Tor House -- the stone house jeffers had built, and the tower he built, almost single-handedly, for his wife by rolling stones up from the pacific -- the point lobos state park he captured in verse, as well as the henry miller library, dedicated to a writer who knew and admired jeffers.

while watching at the pacific's waves slam into the towering rocks, it was hard not to be struck with jeffers' vision of the california coast as both the geographic end of western culture's grand experiment and a renewing source for it.


Ty Griffin said...


In 1987, I published a book on Robinson Jeffers. I didn't know anything about the business aspects of publishing/marketing/selling a book, so it didn't do well. But it's a great book (!), and I'd like to send you a copy. I read your article in the Times the other day and thought, Damn!, I wish I'd gotten you the book before the article.

If you give me an address at the Times or any place else, I'll send you a copy.

Please respond to tygrif@gmail.com


Ty Griffin
San Luis Obispo

Robinson Jeffers said...

Scott --

As you may know, Occidental College is spearheading a "Big Read" this October 1 to November 7. Funded by the National Endowment for the Arts, we and fifteen community partners of the Northeast Los Angeles area are presenting poetry readings and special events that focus on Jeffers poetry connecting it to our own place and environment. I hope you will join us on October 1 to share your personal connection to Jeffers poetry. I believe Charlotte Innes may have mentioned this to you. Please contact me directly at dstieber@oxy.edu.

In the mean time, I'll be linking to your blog from our JeffersBigRead blog and hope you do the same.

Dale Stieber, Special Collections Librarian, Occidental College.