Howard W. Robertson

Howard W. Robertson is a poet and fiction writer who lives in Eugene, Oregon. He received the ATLANTIC REVIEW’s International Merit Award in 2014, was the Henry Art Gallery Poet-in-Residence in 2010, and won the Sinclair Poetry Prize in 2009, the Jack Straw Author Award in 2007, the Elizabeth R. Curry Prize for Poetry in 2006, and the Robinson Jeffers Prize for Poetry in 2003.
He has been among the winners of various other poetry awards, including the Bumbershoot Award, the Emily Dickinson Award, the Robert Frost Foundation Award, the Grassic Short Novel Prize, the Intown Award, the Literal Latté Award, the Pablo Neruda Award, and the Pacifica Award. Poetry with Robertson acquires its archaic meaning: a made thing, p???µa, which is to say that he defines the poem very broadly. Each of his poems is an ode, a fiction, an essay, an abstract painting, and a jazz recording. His poetry is a mimesis of the streaming of Being through Nonbeing. It flows continuously, pausing at times but rarely stopping. Line-breaks never halt the fluent forward progress and his poetry affirms with Aristotle that truth is most universally told through a blend of ficta and facta. Each poem is an essay of existential discovery, an enterprising foray into the discursive wilderness. Each portrays visually the drift and swirl of the things themselves and the interconnected chiaroscuro of shadowy everydayness and shimmering intensity.
His work is based on the belief that reality never fails, nor does the phenomenal revelatory streaming of its representation in authentic poetry. His major influences are Heidegger, Whitman, Pushkin, Basho, Cervantes, Montaigne, and Pindar. Robertson was born on September 19, 1947, in Eugene, Oregon. He descends from Oregon pioneers on his father’s side and is part-Cherokee on his mother’s side, which are the two poles of his soul. He was the 1965 Future First Citizen of Springfield, Oregon. He married Margaret Collins on August 10, 1991, and has two daughters, two sons, five grandsons, and a granddaughter. He received a B.A. in Russian and an M.A. in Comparative Literature from the University of Oregon and an M.S. in Library Science from the University of Southern California. He is a Woodrow Wilson Fellow and Phi Beta Kappa. He served as the Slavic Bibliographer at the University of Oregon Library during 1975-1993 and was the Director of the University of Oregon’s Russian and East European Studies Center. He is a past President of the Lane Literary Guild. He has been a full-time poet since 1993.
Howard W. Robertson is a poet, novelist, librarian, and father. Three of his great-great-grandfathers arrived in Eugene City, Oregon, in 1853, two by covered wagon and the other by undetermined means. Mr. Robertson was born in Eugene in 1947 and by some pleasant oversight of destiny has ended up living most of his adult life there. He began writing poetry at the age of seventeen while teaching himself to type, though that was the first and last time he has ever successfully composed on a typewriter. Over the years, he has made many apparently foolish decisions motivated by the need to find his own poetic voice. Receiving two degrees from the University of Oregon and one from USC has failed to open his eyes to the palpably misguided nature of his existence; he persists in believing he is following a straight course of steady development as a writer. Visits to Mexico, Western Europe, and the Soviet Union, and time spent in Colorado and Southern California, have been important experiences for him, but the Oregon experience remains central to his work. His poems are not actually his but rather those of Lee Douglas, who resides in New Geneva, Oregon, together with a number of personages about whom Mr. Robertson and he write. The essential theme of their work is that living is a beautiful and terrible mystery that is best faced with humor, endurance, and love.”

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