Paul Metcalf, Volume I

Collected Works of Paul Metcalf, 1956–1976

October 1, 1996 • 6.5 x 9.5 • 550 pages • 978-1-56689-050-2

The first of three comprehensive volumes to present the lifetime work of Paul Metcalf, one of the Black Mountain Writers.

Published in limited editions throughout his career by small idealistic presses, Metcalf has nonetheless attracted a loyal following, including such fans as Robert Creeley, William Gass, Wendell Berry, and Guy Davenport. His reevaluation of our history, his exploration of our multiethnic roots, and his ecological concerns make his work especially timely as we near the end of the twentieth century.

The comprehensive three-volume collection brings together all of Paul Metcalf’s major work, most of it long out-of-print. Volume I includes the complete texts of his early, formative novel, Will West; his monumental breakthrough, Genoa; the quirky Patagoni; the lyrical Apalache; and perhaps his darkest book, The Middle Passage.

After a brief stint at Harvard University, Metcalf set out to develop his own authentic style. Inspired by the use of varied sources in Ezra Pound’s Cantos and William Carlos Williams’s Paterson; influenced by his lifelong friend, Charles Olson, and studying the work of Josef Albers, whom he met at Black Mountain College, Metcalf began to incorporate historical and cultural matter, fiction, and other documents into his books. The result is an innovative and unique presentation and interpretation of our American heritage, a treasure of the literary community, and an incredibly intense read.

About the Author

Paul Metcalf (1917–1999) was an American writer and the great-grandson of Herman Melville. His three volume Collected Works were published by Coffee House Press in 1996.


“A unique work of historical and literary imagination, eloquent and powerful. I know of nothing like it.” —Howard Zinn, author of A People’s History of the United States

“My excitement and pleasure is such that I would like to emphasize here my very great respect for Paul Metcalf’s writing and the unique significance of its publication. . . . Much like his great-grandfather, Herman Melville, Paul Metcalf brings an extraordinary diversity of materials into the complex patterns of analogy and metaphor, to affect a common term altogether brilliant in its imagination.” —Robert Creeley