A Poem

Article excerpt

These two poems by David Bromige (as well as the next selection by Al Young) were published in Summer 1970 in a special section edited by Ron Silliman and David Melnick and titled "Fifteen Young Poets of the San Francisco Bay Area." Ron Silliman has provided some commentary on editing that selection; it appears with his poem, "Text VII," immediately after Al Young's poem in this anthology. DAVID BROMIGE, who has subsequently published in several anthologies on Language poetry, also recently reflected on this section:

What "young" entailed in this context isn't exactly clear - I was 36, and poets Joanne Kyger, George Stanley, and Ken Irby couldn't have been much younger. But all of us had published first books recently, or first poems in magazines. Twenty-six years later, I am still in touch with the work of about half of these poets; several of the others were unknown to me even then.

I was a TA in the English PhD program at UC Berkeley in that year, and the poems Chicago Review printed (and several more besides) were handwritten in red pen in a University of California blue book. The date on the front reads 'May 31, 69.' Many of these poems were gathered into my collection Threads, published by Black Sparrow in 1971. Minimalism was in the air - that rubric in which all the i's sound alike - and some of my blue-book poems are very short: "Example/This burg isn't big enough for both of us/I just pulled the strings." The specter of representational imposition was already stalking my compositional space.

As it was on the political level. "Poem" stems from my first encounter with the Free Speech Movement - crowd blocking Sather Gate when I was in a hurry to get a part-time job at Fybate Notes. …