Charles Olson (1910-70) believed that poetry exists in an 'open field' through which the poet transmits energy to the receptive reader. Olson's influence on the development of British and American poetry through his writing and teaching is immense. His work encompasses myth, history, scholarship and politics, grand theories and delight in the particular variousness of life, all marked by the curiosity and openness to experience that he asked of his readers. Olson grew up and returned to live in the seafaring town of Gloucester, Massachusetts, and it was from the life and language of its citizens that his poetry drew its strengths. The Reader includes extracts from the full range of Olson's poetry and prose, including letters, interviews and the full text of the key essay 'Projective Verse'. Ralph Maud, a colleague of Olson's from 1963-5 and the editor of Olson's letters, has supplied an introduction, supporting illustrations, tes and bibliography to this essential resource.
CHARLES OLSON was born in 1910 in Worcester, Massachusetts and grew up in Gloucester, a seaport north of Boston. He studied at Harvard, and taught there for a time, before working for the Roosevelt government during the war. In 1948 he took a post at Black Mountain College, North Carolina, where as rector from 1951 to 1956 he was instrumental in attracting a circle of creative artists to the college. He later taught at the State University of New York, but continued to live in Gloucester, the setting of the Maximus Poems (1960-68). His important writings include his essay 'Projective Verse' (1950), which influenced Robert Duncan, Denise Levertov, Robert Creeley and others; In Cold Hell, In Thicket (1953); and his critical work Call Me Ishmael (1947). Charles Olson died in 1970. RALPH MAUD is Emeritus Professor of English and Associate of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University, British Columbia. He is a major editor of the work of Dylan Thomas. He is also author of Charles Olson?s Reading: A Biography (1995), What Does Not Change: The Significance of Charles Olson?s ?The Kingfishers? (1997) and editor of The Selected Letters of Charles Olson (2000). He knew the poet from 1963 to 1965 when they were colleagues at the State University of New York at Buffalo.