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Author of The Maximus Poems, Rector of Black Mountain College, and quondam Democratic Party activist, Charles Olson is one of the central figures of mid-twentieth-century American poetry. Charles Olson: A Poet s Prose is the first book-length critical study to focus strictly on Olson s prose, ranging from his groundbreaking study of Melville, Call Me...
Author of The Maximus Poems, Rector of Black Mountain College, and quondam Democratic Party activist, Charles Olson is one of the central figures of mid-twentieth-century American poetry. Charles Olson: A Poet s Prose is the first book-length critical study to focus strictly on Olson s prose, ranging from his groundbreaking study of Melville, Call Me Ishmael (1947), through such seminal work as Projective Verse (1950), Human Universe (1951), The Special View of History (1956, 1970), Equal, That Is, to the Real Itself (1958), and Proprioception (1962). The eleven essays collected in this volume introduce a new generation of scholars who engage Olson s thinking on gender and sexuality, human ecology, the relevance of non-Euclidean geometry and quantum physics for poetics, phenomenology and Whitehead s process philosophy, and postmodernism. Olson thinks and writes against the grain of the established authorities in poetry and literary criticism, and his influence on American letters has been broad and varied. Like some Old Testament prophet or Melville s Ishmael, Olson projects a voice that is immediately distinctive, sometimes disturbing, always provocative, and often compelling. To begin to understand postmodern American poetry, one must begin with Charles Olson. Charles Olson is part of that knotty, unpredictable and enduring American grain growing out of Melville and Whitman idealist and materialist at once; wildly imaginative yet profoundly rooted in place. With this volume, Gary Grieve-Carlson has collected eleven essays that add significantly to our understanding of this quintessentially American writer. Focusing on Olson s rich and wide-ranging prose, these essays probe the various ways in which Olson explored the boundless encounter of language with experience. Bonnie Costello, Boston University For anyone reading Charles Olson, sustained attention to the prose along with the poetry is essential. Grieve-Carlson s collection offers a wide-ranging and systematic review of that prose certain to be helpful to our understanding of Olson s significance. This timely collection takes its place in the continuing critical revaluation that is beginning to displace the confessional lyric from its central position in the poetry of the second half of the twentieth century, and establishes Olson as one of the mid-century s most complex, difficult, provocative, and influential literary explorers. William Waddell, St. John Fisher College
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