Don'T Touch The Poet: The Life And Times Of Joel Oppenheimer : A Biography

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Literary Nonfiction. Biography. Poetry. The first biographers of any artist have an unenviable job. With subjects still alive or recently deceased, the smoke screens of family and friends and the passions and intrigues of the times hold sway, obscuring the subject. Lyman Gilmore has done an admirable job of balancing views about the recently deceased Joel Oppenheimer. Oppenheimer achieved a modicum of fame early, appearing in the seminal Dick Allen anthology-New American Poetry-(1960). His listing there as a Black Mountain poet defined Oppenheimer's life. People expected a hard-drinking, free-thinking, sexually liberated counterculture figure. Oppenheimer lived up to those expectations.Gilmore, however, goes beyond facade to show a man obsessed with magic, routine, and lists. A man poet jealous of his career. A man dedicated to networking. This Oppenheimer managed to become first director of the St. Mark's Poetry Project and an organizer of the first 'Writers in the Schools' program. Gilmore admirably balances the contradictions between the free-wheeling bohemian and the careerist. The jury is still out on the importance of Oppenheimer's work. Yet for a very human view of the Black Mountain and Greenwich Village poetry world of the '50s and '60s, this book ranks toward the top --Independent Publisher.


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