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Dislocations

Stephen Fender, 19 January 1989

Landscape and Written Expression in Revolutionary America: The world turned upside down 
by Robert Lawson-Peebles.
Cambridge, 384 pp., £35, March 1988, 0 521 34647 9
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Mark Twain’s Letters. Vol. I: 1853-1866 
edited by Edgar Marquess Branch, Michael Frank and Kenneth Sanderson.
California, 616 pp., $35, May 1988, 0 520 03668 9
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A Writer’s America: Landscape in Literature 
by Alfred Kazin.
Thames and Hudson, 240 pp., £15.95, September 1988, 0 500 01424 8
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... of that great American aesthetic invention: the long, open-ended poem of Whitman, Pound and Charles Olson. Jefferson’s insistence on the provisional nature of Notes is, like the title of Wallace Stevens’s monumental ‘Notes toward a Supreme Fiction’, a sly boast about the inability of formal systems to keep up with the fecundity and fluidity ...

Hi, Louise!

Stephanie Burt: Frank O’Hara, 20 July 2000

In Memory of My Feelings: Frank O’Hara and American Art 
by Russell Ferguson.
California, 160 pp., £24.50, October 1999, 0 520 22243 1
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The Last Avant-Garde: The Making of the New York School of Poets 
by David Lehman.
Anchor, 448 pp., $16.95, November 1999, 0 385 49533 1
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Frank O’Hara: Poet among Painters 
by Marjorie Perloff.
Chicago, 266 pp., £13.50, March 1998, 0 226 66059 1
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... to a statement of his own aesthetic. A spoof of pretentious late-1950s manifestos like those of Charles Olson, the 1959 prose piece was also a real declaration of purpose: O’Hara’s poems would try to record, though never to stand in for, the idiosyncrasies of human relationships: ‘While I was writing “a love poem” I was realising that if I ...

Death (and Life) of the Author

Peter Wollen: Kathy Acker, 5 February 1998

... from her insistence on writing prose rather than poetry. Acker’s debt to Black Mountain – to Charles Olson, in particular, whose work she had known since she was still a schoolgirl – is quite clear and it is strange that this should have gone unrecognised, at least as she saw it, because she was not considered to be a poet. She adapted his concern ...

The Magic Bloomschtick

Colin Burrow: Harold Bloom, 21 November 2019

The American Canon: Literary Genius from Emerson to Pynchon 
by Harold Bloom, edited by David Mikics.
Library of America, 426 pp., £25, October 2019, 978 1 59853 640 9
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... rose garden. Bloom’s American canon does not include Ezra Pound (barely mentioned), let alone Charles Olson or Ed Dorn, and Frank O’Hara is just one of the ‘comedians of the spirit’. Among novelists, Bloom had no time for John Updike’s sharp analyses of suburban excess (he is accused of ‘churchwardenly mewings’ against Emerson, which may ...

Short Cuts

Daniel Soar: The Bourne Analogy, 30 June 2011

... getting ahead of the pack (COMPETITION IS A RACE). Among those present were representatives from Olson Zaltman Associates – a consulting firm that uses ‘metaphor elicitation’ to help global brands (clients include GlaxoSmithKline, Pfizer, Chevron, DuPont, Procter & Gamble, Coca-Cola and the World Bank) ‘target consumers’ implicit thoughts, feelings ...

Call me Ahab

Jeremy Harding: Moby-Dick, 31 October 2002

Moby-Dick, or, The Whale 
by Herman Melville, edited by Harrison Hayford and Hershel Parker.
Northwestern, 573 pp., £14.95, September 2001, 0 8101 1911 0
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Mariners, Renegades and Castaways: The Story of Herman Melville and the World We Live in 
by C.L.R. James.
New England, 245 pp., £17.95, July 2001, 9781584650942
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Hunting Captain Ahab: Psychological Warfare and the Melville Revival 
by Clare Spark.
Kent State, 744 pp., £46.50, May 2001, 0 87338 674 4
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Lucchesi and the Whale 
by Frank Lentricchia.
Duke, 104 pp., £14.50, February 2001, 9780822326540
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... while those with reservations, including the Popular Front critic F.O. Matthiessen and the poet Charles Olson, preferred to align him with Shakespeare, his revolutionary Miltonic essence giving way to a more properly tragic register, with its evocations of madness and fallibility (Lear is Olson’s big parallel) and ...

Upriver

Iain Sinclair: The Thames, 25 June 2009

Thames: Sacred River 
by Peter Ackroyd.
Vintage, 608 pp., £14.99, August 2008, 978 0 09 942255 6
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... from copies of the book and mounted to catch the eye of serial sentimentalists in antique markets. Charles I, a cloaked and lace-collared dandy, strolls across the park to his execution. Queen Matilda, hooded like Meryl Streep in The French Lieutenant’s Woman, escapes across a winter landscape. The princes in the Tower are a suspect download soliciting close ...

Literary Friction

Jenny Turner: Kathy Acker’s Ashes, 19 October 2017

After Kathy Acker: A Literary Biography 
by Chris Kraus.
Allen Lane, 352 pp., £20, August 2017, 978 1 63590 006 4
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... P. Adams Sitney, who was about to go to Yale. ‘Sitney’s poetic passions that summer included Charles Olson, Ezra Pound, Virgil and Sextus Propertius.’ He also introduced his girlfriend to Andy Warhol, Jack Smith, Carolee Schneemann. ‘Her eyes opened wide.’In later years, Acker often said that she had studied linguistics under Roman ...

Callaloo

Robert Crawford, 20 April 1989

Northlight 
by Douglas Dunn.
Faber, 81 pp., £8.95, September 1988, 0 571 15229 5
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A Field of Vision 
by Charles Causley.
Macmillan, 68 pp., £10.95, September 1988, 0 333 48229 8
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Seeker, Reaper 
by George Campbell Hay and Archie MacAlister.
Saltire Society, 30 pp., £15, September 1988, 0 85411 041 0
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In Through the Head 
by William McIlvanney.
Mainstream, 192 pp., £9.95, September 1988, 1 85158 169 3
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The New British Poetry 
edited by Gillian Allnutt, Fred D’Aguiar, Ken Edwards and Eric Mottram.
Paladin, 361 pp., £6.95, September 1988, 0 586 08765 6
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Complete Poems 
by Martin Bell, edited by Peter Porter.
Bloodaxe, 240 pp., £12.95, August 1988, 1 85224 043 1
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First and Always: Poems for Great Ormond Street Children’s Hospital 
edited by Lawrence Sail.
Faber, 69 pp., £5.95, October 1988, 0 571 55374 5
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Birthmarks 
by Mick Imlah.
Chatto, 61 pp., £4.95, September 1988, 0 7011 3358 9
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... that is both universal and domestic. Dunn’s book is far from alone in its attention to home. Charles Causley’s admirers will be pleased with the new collection, A Field of Vision, in which, as the blurb stresses, ‘he comes home again and again.’ Linguistically more adventurous is George Campbell Hay’s Seeker, Reaper, a single poem in ...

Bitchy Little Spinster

Joanne O’Leary: Queens of Amherst, 3 June 2021

After Emily: Two Remarkable Women and the Legacy of America's Greatest Poet 
by Julie Dobrow.
Norton, 448 pp., £13.99, January 2020, 978 0 393 35749 3
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... or drop from an Appenine, or peer at you suddenly from the hollow of a tree, calling myself King Charles, Sancho Panza, or Herod, King of the Jews.’To Higginson, Dickinson was a ‘virgin recluse’; Todd ‘inevitably’ thought ‘of Miss Havisham in speaking of her’. It’s true that these early editors perpetuated the misleading image of the ...

Lace the air with LSD

Mike Jay: Brain Warfare, 4 February 2021

Poisoner in Chief: Sidney Gottlieb and the CIA Search for Mind Control 
by Stephen Kinzer.
Henry Holt, 384 pp., £11.99, November 2020, 978 1 250 76262 7
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... domestic surveillance programme, determined that the man who had fallen from the window was Frank Olson, a chemist employed by the CIA. Hersh disclosed his findings to Olson’s family, who convened a press conference and announced that they would be suing the agency. Ford’s chief of staff, Donald Rumsfeld, was alerted to ...

Vendlerising

John Kerrigan, 2 April 1987

The Faber Book of Contemporary American Poetry 
edited by Helen Vendler.
Faber, 440 pp., £9.95, November 1986, 0 571 13945 0
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Selected Poems 
by John Ashbery.
Carcanet, 348 pp., £16.95, April 1986, 0 85635 666 2
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The Poetry Book Society Anthology 1986/87 
edited by Jonathan Barker.
Hutchinson, 94 pp., £4.95, November 1986, 0 09 165961 2
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Two Horse Wagon Going By 
by Christopher Middleton.
Carcanet, 143 pp., £5.95, October 1986, 0 85635 661 1
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... held between poems became intrinsic. The renga recently written by Paz, Roubaud, Sanguineti and Charles Tomlinson are thus suggestive. They explore an aspect of our lyric tradition which the tradition has not taught us to notice. Such exercises will eventually make it possible to see that Shakespeare in his Sonnets is, like Basho, both creator and artful ...

Every three years

Blake Morrison, 3 March 1988

Fifty Poems 
by Ian Hamilton.
Faber, 51 pp., £4.95, January 1988, 0 571 14920 0
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A Various Art 
edited by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville.
Carcanet, 377 pp., £12.95, December 1987, 0 85635 698 0
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Between Leaps: Poems 1972-1985 
by Brad Leithauser.
Oxford, 81 pp., £5.95, September 1987, 0 19 282089 3
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Eldorado 
by William Scammell.
Peterloo, 71 pp., £4.50, October 1987, 0 905291 88 3
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Disbelief 
by John Ash.
Carcanet, 127 pp., £6.95, September 1987, 0 85635 695 6
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The Automatic Oracle 
by Peter Porter.
Oxford, 72 pp., £4.95, November 1987, 0 19 282088 5
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Voice-over 
by Norman MacCaig.
Chatto, 64 pp., £5.95, February 1988, 0 7011 3313 9
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... one acknowledged influence on these poets, though ‘America’ turns out to mean chiefly Ashbery, Olson and Pound. That there are other traditions to look to these days is clear from the American Brad Leithauser’s Between Leaps, a book notable for itself looking back across the Atlantic. Not many American poets do glance backwards these days, and most of ...

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