The University of California Press and the Jess Collins Trust are pleased to announce the re-launch of an important publishing project: The Collected Writings of Robert Duncan. We are currently planning to issue six volumes: The H.D. Book; Early Poems, Plays, and Prose; Later Poems, Plays, and Prose; Critical Prose; and two further volumes with contents to be determined. We are talking to prospective volume editors and anticipate that the first of these volumes will be ready for production in three years, with publication as early as Fall of 2011. We have also invited a number of scholars, critics, and poets to join an advisory board, which will provide support and advice to volume editors and to University of California Press.
Since the 1960s, Robert Duncan’s seminal poetic works have been published by New Directions (The Opening of the Field, Roots and Branches, and Bending the Bow). Most recently, New Directions published Duncan’s Selected Poems (1995), A Selected Prose (1997), and Ground Work I & II in a combined volume (2006). All the New Directions individual editions will continue to be available, and this project shall proceed with their collaboration.
The road leading up to this announcement has not been without significant challenges. The project was originally initiated in 1987 and 1988 by Robert Duncan and an editorial board that included Robert Bertholf, Robert Creeley, Michael Davidson, and William McPheron. Duncan died in 1988, and all but Robert Bertholf eventually resigned from the editorial board. Robert Bertholf’s contribution to the legacy of Robert Duncan has been significant and important, and we wish we could have found a way to proceed on the project with his continued involvement. In 2007, the Jess Collins Trust confirmed that the copyrights to Robert Duncan’s writings had passed to Jess upon Duncan’s death. At that time, Christopher Wagstaff and Mary Margaret Sloan, on behalf of the Trust, reaffirmed their commitment to seeing through the Collected Writings project with University of California Press. The Trust will provide a needed grant toward the publication of each volume. In addition, a portion of royalties generated from publication of Robert Duncan’s work will be used to further encourage and benefit dissemination, publication, and study of the work of Robert Duncan and Jess.
Publication of the Collected Writings is long overdue, and we look forward to publishing volumes worthy of both the University of California Press imprint and the great legacy of Robert Duncan.