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Poet toying with the idea of writing series of novels.

Byline: Oregon authors by The Register-Guard

Name: Howard Robertson, Eugene

He wrote: `My poems were included in `The Ahsahta Anthology: Modern and Contemporary Poetry of the American West,' a book published in 1996 by Ahsahta Press at Boise State University. My first book of poems, `To the Fierce Guard in the Assyrian Saloon,' was published in 1987, also by Ahsahta Press.'

What are your poems about? `The essential theme of my work is that living is a beautiful and terrible mystery that is best faced with humor, endurance and love.

``Nowadays, I would also speak of the ways in which my poetry is a mimesis of the streaming of Being through Nonbeing. My connection with this ontic flux has been strengthened by training in aikido.

``Unifying mind and body at the one point where the ki of the universe flows most powerfully through me has allowed me to know when my utterance is authentic and harmonious."

Have you lived outside of Eugene? `I have lived mostly in Oregon but also in Colorado, Mexico and Los Angeles. My great-great-great-grandfather was a captain on the Lost Wagon Train of 1853 that trekked through Central Oregon and crossed south of Diamond Peak to arrive at Eugene, so I am a sixth-generation Eugene resident.

``This spot is really the omphalos of my world, and my mentality has turned out to be sort of microcosm of the historical and prehistoric experience of this location.'

Why poetry and not short stories? `My sensibility seems to find its profoundest and most natural form of expression in poetry, especially in long philosophical poems, rather than in short stories or novels.

``Having said this, however, I should perhaps confess that I am harboring illusions about also attempting a series of novels on academia. I spent 17.5 years on the library faculty at the University of Oregon, where I was also the director of the Russian and East European Studies Center, and so worked closely with teaching faculty from many departments.

``I believe the American university is a social context that I know well.'

Who inspired you to become a poet? `Walt Whitman's `Song of Myself' had the earliest and biggest effect on my writing of poems, then Alexander Pushkin's `Eugene Onegin,' Miguel Cervantes' `Don Quixote' and Matsuo Basho's `The Trail to Oku.'

``The tradition of ode has also influenced my work profoundly, from Pindar and Horace through Ronsard to Wordsworth, Shelley, Keats and Neruda. My themes have a lot to do with such Pacific Northwest poets as Denise Levertov, Theodore Roethke, Gary Snyder and William Stafford. My techniques are akin in many ways to such East Coast poets as John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, Frank O'Hara and Wallace Stevens.'

``Ode to Certain Interstates and Other Poems'' is in the works to be published. Where in the process is it? `My publisher promises me that ... my book will be out at the beginning of October. Clear Cut Press is working with a printer in Japan who can do all the ambitious graphics and so forth that will be featured.'

What's next? `The poem I am working on now is called `Where are the Antiquities of Iraq?' It is set in the Columbia River Gorge and deals with our monumental connection to vast reaches of time.'

E-mail him: robertsons2@

Oregon authors appears regularly on the Books page. Direct comments to Assistant Features Editor Paul Denison at 338-2323, or by e-mail at
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Title Annotation:Arts & Literature
Publication:The Register-Guard (Eugene, OR)
Date:Aug 3, 2003
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