Bill Tremblay — Honorary Member of the West Coast Poetry Renaissance

Bill Tremblay is not a poet who is associated with the West Coast poetry renaissance of the past 75 years, and yet I would be sorely tempted to include him in any anthology that attempted to survey that movement. In large part, his eligibility for such an anthology would be based on expanding “West Coast” to potentially include those poets whose books exist because of the devotion of a West Coast publisher to their work. While Bill Tremblay first caught my attention in the early 1970s with a book from the University of Massachusetts Press (Crying in the Cheap Seats), the vast majority of his subsequent books have been issued by Lynx House Press. Given the number of books he has published and the quality of his work, one has to wonder why he is not better known as a poet. Then again, I have the same question about Christopher Buckley, who also is a poet I would strongly identify as a major contributor to the West Coast poetry renaissance.

For those who are fans of Tremblay’s poetry, I would call attention to an interview with him in issue number 4 of Resonance magazine along with a half-dozen recent poems. In particular, I would urge poets to consider the conversation that Tremblay cites between Dick Hugo and himself about the career advantages of achieving a recognizable style. I myself side with Tremblay’s position, though I have often pointed out to students the same thing that Hugo mentions. My example, though, is Deborah Butterfield’s horse sculptures. This is not to say that I don’t immensely respect and admire poets who have attained such a recognizable curvature to their work that it almost becomes a legal signature: Paul Vangelisti, for instance, and Rae Armantrout. Of those poets who are more deliberately evasive, however, Bill Tremblay is among my favorite.

Here’s the link:

For those of you who are not at all familiar with Tremblay’s work, here is a list of some of his titles:

Second sun : new and selected poems
Seattle, Wash.] : L’Epervier Press ; Berkeley, Calif. (1985)
(52 libraries)

Rainstorm over the alphabet : poems, 1990-2000
Portland, Or. : Lynx House Press ; Berkeley, CA (2001)
(75 libraries)

Walks along the ditch : poems
Spokane, Washington : Lynx House Press, Seattle, WA : University of Washington Press (2016)
“These poems represent a turn in Bill Tremblay’s long, distinguished career. The political and social concerns are still present, as well as the powerful lyric invention that has marked his previous collections. What’s new is the poems’ meditative interiority, the sense of a man alone with his faiths, failures, feelings, and thoughts as he walks daily along the irrigation ditch near his house, the Rocky Mountains and great Colorado sky in the background, dwarfing all that anyone ever thought, did, or believed. The whole book has about it a passionate, mesmerizing calm.” — COVER DESCRIPTION
(45 libraries)

Crying in the Cheap Seats
Amherst: University of Massachusetts Press, 1971
(219 libraries)

Note: The number of libraries in which each book can be found was accessed at World Cat Advanced Search.

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