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Robin Blaser is one of North America’s most outstanding poets of the postwar period, having emerged from the Berkeley Renaissance of the 1940s and 1950s as a central figure in that burgeoning literary scene. He is Professor Emeritus at Simon Fraser University and has published several books of poems and numerous essays, many of which are included in The Fire: Collected Essays of Robin Blaser (University of California Press, 2006). Blaser established himself as a key figure on the west coast of British Columbia and an important influence among Canadian experimental poets such as George Bowering, Steve McCaffery, bp Nichol, Erín Moure and Daphne Marlatt. Blaser also penned an English and Latin opera libretto entitled The Last Supper. On May 31st, 2006, the legendary poet received our first Lifetime Recognition Award.

We note with great sadness that Robin Blaser died in May, 2009. Numerous moving tributes to him and his work have been published, and we have linked to some of them from here.

Holy Forest: Collected Poems of Robin Blaser

University of California Press
2008 Winner
United States

Judges’ Citation

There is an irony in the presumption that the universe contains the ‘collected’ poems of Robin Blaser.

There is an irony in the presumption that the universe contains the ‘collected’ poems of Robin Blaser. Within the five hundred pages of The Holy Forest moves a lifetime’s thought such as we are not used to or prepared for. Whitman was not fooling when he said that a poet, an extraordinary poet, can himself be a cosmos. But as sidereal as Blaser’s lines become, we never forget that the purpose is human living every day inside what is. In a review of an earlier volume with the same title (bravely published in Canada by Coach House and later listed by Talonbooks), Brian Fawcett wrote: ‘His truest poetic instinct is that cosmology is at once humanity’s fundamental pursuit – and the source of our most screamingly funny ironies, misapprehensions and pratfalls.’ Blaser is solemn enough to approach Dante Alighieri as a ‘Great Companion,’ and serious enough to maintain that ‘the truth is laughter’ we might find some afternoon on the darkest pavement.