“I dread falling in love,” Robert Duncan (2014: 60) wrote in his 1961 essay “Properties and Our REAL Estate.” “Falling in love means losing my being. Love exposes us to the first body and to the light; we might even fall in love with what we hate or what hates us.” Jeanne Heuving does not cite this text, but she wrote The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics under the sign of Duncan, whom she credits as more explicitly addressing love than any of her book’s other subjects (114). Her bracing study carefully examines how sexual love informed—that is, provided a new form for—the poetics of Ezra Pound, H.D. (Hilda Doolittle), Duncan, Kathleen Fraser, and Nathaniel Mackey. In the process of formally innovating composition through their love poetry, these writers explored the sort of subjective unraveling Duncan “dreads.” Despite such apprehension, he, and the other poets Heuving studies,...
The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics
Eric Keenaghan is associate professor of English at the University at Albany, SUNY. He is author of Queering Cold War Poetry (2009). He is now editing The Selected Prose of Muriel Rukeyser and writing two monographs, one about anarchist pacifist poetry and another on New American poets aligned with the New Left.
Eric Keenaghan; The Transmutation of Love and Avant-Garde Poetics. Modern Language Quarterly 1 March 2018; 79 (1): 117–121. doi: https://doi.org/10.1215/00267929-4264347
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