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Mor and Bob Peterson
Mort and Robert Peterson


Excerpt from Striking Through the Masks

I was also giving readings of my own work around the city as well as attending readings by others. One night I heard Robert Peterson read in North Beach. I went up to him afterward, told him how impressed I was with his work, and asked him if he would visit my classes at Lick. I was reacting not only to his precise speech rhythms, but to the voice they projected, which reminded me of a contemporary American version of some Chinese poets of the Tang (T’ang) and Song (Sung) dynasties. The persona in the poems was a sort of comic Humphrey Bogart, a self-deprecating tough guy who was humorous without being witty, personal without being confessional, and human without soliciting pity or any of the trappings of the cult of personality. In addition, Peterson forced the listener to pay strict attention to his poems because he cut out connections between phrases and, leaping from one subject to another, required the listener to link phrases and images and so enter the experience of the poem.

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