Message from the President ~ June 2022


Greetings RJA Members,

Giving thanks and a welcome…

Much has evolved in our Association since our last President’s Message: publication of two new volumes of Jeffers’s previously unpublished works, several changes in leadership, plans for the first cohosted, in person RJA/Tor House Foundation Fall Festival in October 2022, and the initiation of a THF Jeffers webinar series. The intellectual space for this growth is due in no small part to our past president, Emeritus Professor Jim Karman. We all are well acquainted with Jim’s erudite Jeffers scholarship: the three-volume Collected Letters of Robinson Jeffers, with Selected Letters of Una Jeffers and the Poet and Prophet biography. His leadership and compassionate consideration of the ways and means of keeping the RJA relevant, progressive, and sustainable are equally significant. I also happily acknowledge my gratitude to Paula Karman who has contributed immeasurably to the work of RJA and the continual and uninterrupted dissemination of Jeffers Studies. As your new president, I am extremely grateful to have Jim on “speed dial,” as this will enable a successful transition and the maintenance of the innovative programming that he, Tim Hunt, and others have begun.

In that vein, I would like to formally introduce Emeritus Professor Tim Hunt as our new executive director. If I need to introduce Tim to the RJA membership, then we may have a problem at the very core of our mission! After editing four volumes of Jeffers’s verse craft and composing a fifth on the chronology, exposition, and textual analysis of the poems, many would retire and enjoy their laurels. Instead, Tim has gone on to edit, with Rob Kafka, the extraordinary Point Alma Venus manuscripts and create a series of new Jeffers programming initiatives to engage both Jeffers scholars and the general public. Tim has also published a new volume of original poetry—more on this to follow.

The final addition to our leadership team is the election of new Advisory Board member, Louise Economides, who will join existing members Robert Zaller and Gere diZerega. Louise is a professor of literature at the University of Montana, where she focuses on the intersection of environmental studies and the humanities. Louise has written on “Robinson Jeffers, Geopoetry, and the Anthropocene,” as well as numerous articles and published volumes, including Blake, Heidegger, Buddhism and Deep Ecology: A Fourfold Perspective on Humanity’s Relationship to Nature; The Ecology of Wonder in Romantic and Postmodern Literature; and the forthcoming Wild Anthropocene: Literature, Environmental Justice and the Future of Biodiversity (Routledge). I am extremely excited to welcome Louise to the Board.

President’s Message: Why the RJA?

“Civilization exists by geologic consent, subject to change without notice.” This quote, often attributed to Will Durant, contextualizes our modern condition and allows us to recognize the fragile connection between the environment and the culture—civilization—through which we interpret our existence. If we include the organic changes that arise from evolutionary biology in the broader context of Earth evolution, we might consider “biological consent” as equally subject to change without notice (read: viruses). Our existence has always been subconsciously predicated on the notion of earthly and biological stability. Yet here we are, amidst a global pandemic, the recent eruption of Hunga Tonga (right), and natural and anthropogenic climate change. We are faced with geologic phenomena that would find a fitting home in the poetry of Robinson Jeffers.
Given the increasing global recognition of this fragility, several questions arise. How can the RJA increase and sustain Jeffers’s voice in the larger dialogue on the reevaluation of our position in the environmental, spiritual, and political landscape? Where do we go 60 years on from Jeffers’s death? Has he reached a wider reading public? Is he regularly anthologized and taught? How has his work shaped subsequent generations of readers, poets, artists, and critics? As even casual readers are aware, Jeffers claimed not to be swayed by popular opinion nor even the desire for readers. Perhaps a bit of braggadocio, but not without some rationale. Jeffers crafted his poetry, and indeed his larger artistic project, involving the design and construction of Tor House and Hawk Tower, with the intentions of existential longevity and endurance.

How can the RJA endeavor to demonstrate that Jeffers’s artistic achievements provide a fundamental metaphor for the 21st century homo sapien? That is, one who is patient, observant, constructive, compassionate—yes, despite his assertions of hawks over humans, Jeffers was deeply compassionate—and, ever more resonant today, one who leads a life of sustainability.

I have no definitive answers for these questions, but there are many possibilities waiting to be explored. I look forward to working with all of you to increase and sustain the influence of Robinson Jeffers on homo sapiens. He and we are worth the effort.

My very best wishes to each of you, and I look forward to future dialogues with all of you.

Aaron Yoshinobu (he/him)
President, RJA

2022 Joint RJA/Tor House Foundation Fall Festival Announcement

We would like to invite you to attend the upcoming in-person 2022 Fall Festival, co-hosted by the RJA and the Tor House Foundation, in Carmel, CA, from October 14 to 16. The theme of the festival will be the Jeffers family’s 1929 travels to Ireland and Scotland, with special emphasis on the recently published 1929 Travel Diaries and the connections with Jeffers’s volume, Descent to the Dead. Presentations on other topics are welcome, as well.

The festivities will begin with a Sunset Celebration at Tor House on Friday evening. Public presentations will follow on Saturday at the Carmel Woman’s Club; Saturday evening will include a dedication of sculptures at Jeffers Plaza in Monterey, followed by dinner; on Sunday morning we will gather at Tor House for a farewell breakfast. Specific details and registration information will be sent later in the summer.

The deadline for proposals is July 15. Please submit your proposal and any questions you may have to

New Programming and Membership Benefits…

Jeffers Studies is one way we share insights and ideas concerning Jeffers. Other ways include our RJA–THF webinars and our newly introduced programming channel for Zoom-based seminars and open discussions. For more information about the programming channel and for a sign-up link, click here:

If you have not already done so, please remember to remit your 2022 membership dues. Here is a link to the “Join or Renew” page on our website: For those of you who have already renewed, thank you!

News from Jeffers Country

We are pleased to welcome Rick Applegate (Tucson, AZ), Ronald Janssen (Huntington Station, NY), Clark McCann (Issaquah, WA), John Ryan (Howell, NJ), and Katrien Vander Straeten (Wayland, MA) as new members of the RJA.

Cory Willard published “Uncenter Yourselves: Revisiting Robinson Jeffers’s Inhumanism in the Age of The Overstory” in Western American Literature, Vol. 56, No. 3-4 (2021), 237-52:

An art exhibit titled The Fire of Heaven: Enrique Martínez Celaya and Robinson Jeffers is on display at the Monterey Museum of Art (Monterey, CA) from May 12, 2022, to October 9, 2022:

Elise M. Eden performed three recitals and submitted a “Voice Dissertation” for a DMA at the University of Michigan in 2021. One of the recitals featured a performance of Songs of Autumn—five poems by Jeffers set to music by composer Jessica Hunt.

Sara Judy completed a PhD dissertation at the University of Notre Dame in April 2022 titled “Singing in the Late Season: Prophetic American Poetry in the Post-War Period.” Her study “shows how social protest poetry written in the U.S. after the second World War, by Robinson Jeffers, Muriel Rukeyser, and Jorie Graham, challenges and complicates traditional notions of prophecy in American poetry.”

Carter Davis Johnson earned an MA at Virginia Tech University in April 2022 with a thesis titled “The Dust Dwellers: The Environmental Philosophy of John Steinbeck, Robinson Jeffers, and Jack London.” Johnson examines “the environmental philosophy of three Californian modernists . . . collectively named the Dust Dwellers: John Steinbeck, Robinson Jeffers, and Jack London” from a Jungian perspective.

Congratulations to Tim Hunt on Voice to Voice in the Dark, a new collection of poems scheduled for publication by Broadstone Press on July 15. As one appreciative reader writes, “I love how this luminous book sees a person—any person, not just a poet, or a singer, or a revolutionary—as a voice among voices—and by doing so, enables us to hear America again.” For more information see

Message from the President ~ December 2021

As my term as president of RJA nears its end, I want to take this opportunity to introduce Aaron Yoshinobu, who steps into the position in January. Many of you already know Aaron from his erudite presentations at RJA and Tor House Foundation events, but those of you who have not yet met him might wish to know that he is a native of the Monterey Peninsula and a professor in the Department of Geosciences at Texas Tech University in Lubbock, Texas. His faculty profile at Texas Tech includes this statement:
I am a structural geologist who explores questions relating to the nature of magma/melt migration and emplacement in the lithosphere and the structural/tectonic evolution of arcs, oceanic spreading centers, and icy satellites. I combine field work with microstructural observations and theoretical models to explain the structural history of these systems. In collaboration with petrologists, geochemists, and geochronologists, I study arc evolution in the US Cordillera and central Norway. My passion is to combine a variety of datasets, observations, and collaborators, to optimally inform our understanding of geologic structures. In addition, I am also interested in the intersection of geology, stone masonry, and the poetics of 20th century American poet Robinson Jeffers. Im a HUGE SOCCER ADVOCATE (coach/player/observer) and I also like to run trail ultramarathons.
Aaron is an interdisciplinary thinker who moves easily between the domains of art and science. Under his leadership, RJA is certain to thrive.
I also want to thank advisory board members Gere diZerega, Tim Hunt, and Robert Zaller for their tireless efforts on behalf of RJA during my term; Brett Colasacco for serving faithfully as executive director; Jim Baird and Whitney Hoth for their skillful co-editorship of Jeffers Studies; Charlie Rodewald for his dedication as treasurer; Jessica Hunt for her expertise as social media coordinator; Paula Karman for her essential roles as administrative partner and Jeffers Studies editorial assistant; and all of you—living in thirty-one states and six foreign countries—for your participation and support. While changes in our administrative lineup will be announced by Aaron when he assumes the presidency, one new addition can be mentioned now: Lindsay Jeffers has graciously accepted our invitation to serve on our advisory board as an ex officio member, representing the Jeffers family. As the immediate past president of RJA, I will be an ex officio member of the advisory board as well, and I look forward to helping Aaron and the executive committee fulfill RJA’s goals.
Plans for the next issue of Jeffers Studies are underway, but there is still time to submit proposals. If you have an idea for an essay, a book review, a biographical note about Jeffers, or a study of a particular poem, please send it by the end of February to the editors at
Jeffers Studies is one way we share insights and ideas concerning Jeffers. Other ways include our RJA–THF webinars and our newly introduced programming channel for Zoom-based seminars and open discussions. For more information about the programming channel and for a sign-up link, click here:
Please remember to remit your 2022 membership dues by the end of this month. Here is a link to the “Join or Renew” page on our website:
For those of you who have already renewed, thank you!
Since this is the holiday season, it is fitting to recall a passage in a letter by Una and a stanza in a poem by Jeffers where Christmas eve at midnight is mentioned. “Christmas was very happy although rainy,” Una writes in 1927. “We four went to midnight mass in the old mission. Most impressive, the fragile music from the loft and the terrific rain and wind swirling around the old building. Above it and the boom of the sea—the clamor of the cracked old bells just at midnight. Many bright tall candles and fragrant greens and lilies and two big braziers of coals near the door to warm our hands.” Jeffers alludes to a storm of a different sort in “Two Christmas-Cards,” written in December 1940, when the world was sliding into the abyss of war. His message, as one might expect, is not one of merriment and good cheer. He speaks, rather, of the profound mystery of existence, and of the hope one­ finds—must find—in the reverberant silence of darkness and despair. The second set of verses begins with this stanza:
          For an hour on Christmas eve
          And again on the holy day
          Seek the magic of past time,
          From this present turn away.
          Dark though our day,
          Light lies the snow on the hawthorn hedges
          And the ox knelt down at midnight.
With warmest best wishes,
James Karman
Emeritus Professor
Department of English
Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities
California State University, Chico

News from Jeffers Country
We are pleased to welcome LAWRENCE SPANN (Santa Barbara, CA) as a new member of RJA.
Two important publications are scheduled for release in January: Robinson Jeffers Family Travel Diaries, Volume One: British Isles, 1929, edited by DEBORAH WHITTLESEY SHARP and designed and typeset by NORRIS POPE (Tor House Press, 2022), and The Point Alma Venus Manuscripts by Robinson Jeffers, edited by TIM HUNT and ROBERT KAFKA (Stanford University Press, 2022). Information on how to order volume one of the Travel Diaries will be available soon. An order form for Point Alma Venus, with a 20% discount, is available here.
JOHN CUSATIS, a former executive director of RJA, will publish Conversations with Billy Collins (University Press of Mississippi, 2022) next summer. Copies can be pre-ordered from: A previous book in the same “Literary Conversations Series” is titled Conversations with John Banville (2020). Congratulations, John!
GEORGE HART, author of Inventing the Language to Tell It: Robinson Jeffers and the Biology of Consciousness (Fordham University Press, 2013) and former editor of Jeffers Studies, shares his thoughts on “The Poems of Robinson Jeffers” with Chris Evans on the June 27, 2021, Lit Matters podcast. Listen at:
DOROTEA BITTERLI, a student at Universität Bern, Switzerland, completed her work for a B.A. degree in September 2021 with a thesis titled “Martha Grahams und Robinson Jeffers’ Medea-Versionen am Ende des Zweiten Weltkriegs 1945–1947: Von ‘human’ versus ‘not human’ zu ‘more than human’ und ‘inhuman.’”
“Self-Criticism in February” by Jeffers, along with a brief biographical portrait, was published in the San Diego Reader, February 4, 2021:
Jeffers’ poem “Vulture” appeared in the April 2021 issue of the Sonoma County Literary Update:
“Rock and Hawk” by Jeffers was featured on the Vox Populi website in October 2021:
The work of Jeffers is discussed in “Lo bestial de la crueldad” by LUIS JAVIER PLATA ROSAS, Nexos, 43 (Octubre 2021):

Message from the President ~ September 2021

In “The Torch-Bearers’ Race,” Jeffers reflects on the progress of Western civilization as “it gleamed across Euphrates mud, shone on Nile shore” and then “lightened / The little homely Ionian water and the sweet Aegean.” Passed along by poets with “names like the stars’ names, Sappho, Alcaeus, / And Aeschylus,” the Greco-Roman, Judeo-Christian tradition spread through Europe, crossed the Atlantic, and continued westward until, on the California coast, it reached a geographical—if not a spiritual and intellectual—end. As a late runner in that race, facing the “huge, inhuman, remote, unruled” ocean, Jeffers wondered what could possibly happen next.
I thought of this poem when I received word that Robert Brophy died, for Bob was a torch-bearer in the field of Jeffers studies. He was the primary link between readers and scholars who came of age in the first half of the twentieth century and those who came after. Melba Berry Bennett, the founding editor of the Robinson Jeffers Newsletter, reported on Bob’s dissertation research in the February 1964 issue (no. 4), telling readers that he “has tapped every source of information on both the east and west coasts and has been generous in keeping us informed.” By the time Bob completed his graduate studies at the University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill—with a dissertation titled “Structure, Symbol, and Myth in Selected Narratives of Robinson Jeffers” (1966)—he was already teaching at the University of San Francisco. Two years later, he accepted a position at California State University, Long Beach, where he remained for the rest of his career. In 1969, following the death of Melba Bennett, Bob took over as editor of the Newsletter, a position he held for almost thirty years. During that time, as Jeffers’ contemporaries passed away and new generations of scholars appeared, Bob was at the very center of Jeffers’ world, in touch with an international community of readers interested in the poet’s life and work. As a founding member of the Robinson Jeffers Association when it was established in 1990, and as the founding senior editor of Jeffers Studies when it was launched in 1997, Bob continued to inspire others. The course he set is the one we are on today. 
Because many current members of RJA never met Bob and may be unfamiliar with his legacy, I asked former presidents and our president-elect to say a few words about him. Their names are listed in the order in which they served. Two former presidents are no longer with us—Alex Vardamis, who died in 2014, and Ron Olowin, who died in 2017. Both shared Bob’s passion for literature and his selfless commitment to a higher cause. Please visit our website to read more about Bob, and to offer your own memorial message.
Tim Hunt: “Those of us who worked with Bob over the years knew him as a gracious and generous mentor.  Through his scholarship, through his editorial work, through his work with RJA, and through his teaching, he was the architect of what has become the Jeffers scholarly community, and he was its informing spirit.”
Robert Zaller: “Although several fine studies of Jeffers’ work existed, Bob’s study of myth, ritual, and symbol in his narratives achieved a range and a depth of insight that made it the foundational work of modern Jeffers scholarship, as it is indispensable to any student today. But no less important was his guidance and friendship for so many of us over the years, and perhaps most of all his great graciousness of spirit and his unwavering commitment to the values of justice and compassion he held so dear.”
Fran Vardamis, for Alex Vardamis: “He was, in his way, and in all ways, the soul for the Robinson Jeffers Newsletter and the godfather of Jeffers Studies. Jeffers scholarship owes an enormous debt to him. Lucky he was with us, and with his students, all those 93 years.”
Jim Baird: “I met Bob in 1974 when he came to North Texas to give a talk on Jeffers and thereby began my work as a scholar as well as a reader.  He helped me gain access to Tor House for my first visit there in 1977, reviewed and improved my contributions to the newsletter and the journal, surveyed my publications and recommended that I be promoted—and those are just a few of the things he did for me.  I know he helped countless others in the same way.”
Peter Quigley: “Without Bob’s generosity of spirit and welcoming warmth combined with his careful and loving treatment of Jeffers’ verse, the last three decades of my life would have been very different and much less rich.” 
David Rothman: “It was Bob who encouraged me to revise a chapter from my dissertation on Jeffers’ verse craft for Robinson Jeffers: Dimensions of a Poet, a book he edited for Fordham University Press. Bob was unfailingly kind and patient, yet highly (highly!) attentive to detail, as he shepherded my essay through the publication process. Bob drew me into the warmest, most engaging, supportive community of scholars and writers I had ever known.”
Geneva Gano: “Bob was incredibly dedicated to the Robinson Jeffers Association and I believe it is an understatement to say that his work was transformational and enduring.  He was so kind to me, and to so many. This world will miss him.”
Rob Kafka: “Apart from his perspicacity on matters touching Jeffers’ life and work, it is his mentorship and unstinting generosity that I remember most vividly about Bob—along with his quiet vivacity and engagement. I once knew someone who, after meeting Bob, commented to me that he had “dancing eyes.” Yes, he did. That is how I wish to remember him.”
Aaron Yoshinobu: “As an academic geologist presenting for the first time at a meeting of the RJA back in 2004, I had no idea what the response would be to my small contribution to Jeffers scholarship. After I spoke, Bob Brophy approached me with the kindest smile, an assuring handshake, and words of encouragement. I was floored; I simply could not believe that the man who had initiated the deep and rich scholarship of Jeffers was even marginally interested in what I said. Bob went on to send me many emails about Jeffers, my work, and the intersection of poetry, stone masonry and science. His gentle smile and earnestness I shall never forget.” 
In Jeffers’ poem we find words for a fitting epitaph:
            The torch-bearers’ race: it is run in a dusk; when the emptied racer drops
                  unseen at the end of his course
            A fresh hand snatches the hilt of the light, the torch flies onward
            Though the man die. Not a runner knows where the light was lighted, not
                  a runner knows where it carries fire to,
            Hand kisses hand in the dark, the torch passes, the man
            Falls, and the torch passes.
Ave atque vale
Hail and farewell
James Karman
Emeritus Professor
Department of English
Department of Comparative Religion and Humanities
California State University, Chico

News from Jeffers Country
We warmly welcome new RJA members ROBERT ATWAN (Pasadena, CA), JOSHUA BARTEE (Las Vegas, NV), KATHARINE BUBEL (Delta, British Columbia), and ANTONIA DOSIK (Yellow Springs, OH).
Volume 21 of Jeffers Studies will be mailed out within the next few weeks. The issue contains essays by TIM HUNT, JAMES KARMAN, ROBERT ZALLER, and newcomer KATHRYN CHEW, along with an editor’s note by JIM BAIRD and a review of GENEVA GANO’S recently published book, The Little Art Colony and US Modernism: Carmel, Provincetown, Taos, by WHITNEY HOTH. Plans for the September 2022 issue of Jeffers Studies are already underway, so please submit your proposals soon to: Guidelines for submissions can be found on the RJA website.
Our fifth webinar, co-sponsored by RJA and the Tor House Foundation, was titled “New Voices and New Directions in Jeffers Scholarship” and featured presentations by KATHARINE BUBEL, BRETT COLASACCO, and GENEVA GANO. The well-received event was hosted by TIM HUNT and produced by JESSICA HUNT. A video recording will be available on the RJA website soon.
The publication date of The Point Alma Venus Manuscripts, edited by TIM HUNT and ROB KAFKA, has been postponed by Stanford University Press to January 2022.
Like Mabel Dodge Luhan in Lorenzo in Taos, RACHEL CUSK frames her new novel, Second Place, as an address to “Jeffers.” Second Place is on the long list for the 2021 Booker Prize.
It’s Always 9/11, a dystopic political thriller by WENDY AVRA GORDON, begins with an epigraph by Jeffers—a quotation from “The Eye.”
For the protagonist of A Parable of Lies —“an experiment in healing fiction”—by LAWRENCE SPANN, Jeffers is an important source of insight and wisdom.
A student essay by ADAM LUNDQUIST, titled “Dark Mountain’s Uncivilized Writing and Robinson Jeffers,” can be found on the Göteborgs Universitet website: