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Robert Peterson obit - 2000

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Robert Peterson obit - 2000

Posted: 971697600000
Classification: Obituary
Edited: 993571992000
San Francisco Chronicle
Saturday, October 7, 2000
Section A, page 19


Robert Peterson, a renowned poet who was part of the thriving San Francisco poetry scene of the 1950s, died of cancer Sept. 21 at his home in Fairfax. He was 76.

He published nine collections of poetry during his 34-year career. The last, ``All the Time in the World,'' was published in 1996.

Pulitzer Prize-winning poet Carolyn Kizer said Mr. Peterson possessed a ``faultless ear for the rhythms of contemporary speech'' and praised his ``marvelously balanced lines.'' Another contemporary, author Leonard Gardner, said of Mr. Peterson, ``His is a voice of man's comic nobility in the midst of slow disaster.''

Mr. Peterson was born in Denver and raised in San Francisco, where his adoptive parents owned the Fielding Hotel in Union Square. He grew up wandering the hotel's hallways, meeting jazz musicians, boxers and traveling salesmen.

Mr. Peterson graduated from Lowell High School and the University of California at Berkeley. He was an Army combat medic in Europe during World War II.

But it was not until 1955, when Mr. Peterson enrolled in the creative writing program at San Francisco State College, that he found his calling. As a student in the Poetry Center, Mr. Peterson helped found ``Transfer,'' the campus literary magazine, in 1957. He would later serve as the poetry editor for ``Contact,'' a Sausalito-based literary journal.

His first collection of poetry, ``Home for the Night,'' was published in 1962 -- the same year he edited an anthology of poems opposing the Vietnam War.

Mr. Peterson was among the first to receive a grant from the National Endowment for the Arts after its founding in 1965.
Mr. Peterson was the writer in residence at Reed College in Portland, Ore., from 1969 to 1971. He then went to Taos, N.M., where he wrote ``Leaving Taos.'' The collection was named a National Poetry Series selection in 1981.

After returning to the Bay Area, Mr. Peterson started his own publishing company, Black Dog Press.

Mr. Peterson is survived by his companion of 14 years, Joan Kloehn of Fairfax; a daughter, Laurel Glenn, of Havelock, N.C.; and a grandson.

Services will be private.

Memorials may be made to Hospice of Marin, 150 Nellen Ave., Corte Madera, CA 94925; Senior Medi- Benefits, 3195 Adeline St., Berkeley, CA 94703; or any charity.

An obituary was published in the Marin Independent Journal on Saturday, October 7, 2000 in Section B, pages 1 and 2. Additional information: Mr. Peterson moved to San Francisco from Denver at the age of 3 and was raised by his adoptive parents, Alice and Ernest Peterson, at the Fielding Hotel in Union Square which they owned and operated. His daughter, Laurel, is a major in the U.S. Marin Corps; his grandson is named Alexander.

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