An ever-important voice in American poetry, George Oppen continues to resonate for me personally and politically, having so delicately scanned the social landscape of his contingent world with a ready admission of his constituent and consequent place in it. No poet in his time (that I can presently recall) so drove home the point of our existence's singular/plural condition, and with such meaning-ridden economy (even the hesitancy speaks through). We need a poetry today that is descendant with/from his compassionate(ly blunt) panorama of "presentness."
Charles Bernstein insists that for Oppen, the "loss of the 'transcendental signified' does not necessitate the abandonment, or absence, of knowledge but its location in history, in 'people'. This view entails both a rejection of the crude materialism of things without history and the crude idealism of history without things... an ideal communication situation... The autonomy of the root, of the individual, allowing for the music of the social, the numerous." -from the essay Hinge, picture, published in Ironwood 26 (1985)