Duncan was, unusually, a seminal member of both Black Mountain and San Francisco Renaissance poetry groups, and an anticipatory proponent of gay liberation. He knew Miller and Nin in downtown New York (where he also published their friend Durrell), corresponded with Patchen, Riding and Baraka (energetically), and was a close friend of Levertov, though they increasingly differed over art/politics relations. Olson introduced him to Creeley at Black Mountain, where Chamberlain was a kindred spirit. Rexroth took him under his wing back in California. A passionate admirer of H.D., Duncan corresponded with her for the last decade of her life.