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Kooked

Mark Ford, 10 March 1994

Selected Poems 
by Charles Olson, edited by Robert Creeley.
California, 225 pp., $25, December 1993, 0 520 07528 5
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Selected Poems 
by Robert Duncan, edited by Robert Bertholf.
Carcanet, 147 pp., £9.95, October 1993, 1 85754 038 7
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... with Black Mountain College – Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan and Charles Olson. Of all these it was Charles Olson who engaged most directly and continuously with the implications of Pound’s poetics. The Maximus Poems can he read as a massive attempt to heal what ...

His One Eye Glittering

August Kleinzahler: Creeley’s Chatter, 20 May 2021

The Selected Letters of Robert Creeley 
edited by Rod Smith, Peter Baker and Kaplan Harris.
California, 467 pp., £25, March 2020, 978 0 520 32483 1
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... Logorrhoea:​ Charles Olson, Robert Duncan and Robert Creeley were all afflicted with it. I only ever witnessed Duncan’s performances – free-form, extended, mostly improvised soliloquies. The one I remember best was at the poet Carl Rakosi’s house. It was many years ago, but I think he touched on Plato, Beethoven, Milton, Tom Thumb, Lysistrata, the genus Asterias (starfish) and the song ‘Penny Lane ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Handwriting, 8 November 2012

... the keyboard often have the fluency of the longhand draft, the letter, the note penned in haste. Charles Olson welcomed the typewriter as an aid to composition, clunky yet precise, enabling poets to orchestrate ‘the breath, the pauses, the suspensions even of syllables’. ‘For the first time,’ he wrote in his essay ‘Projective Verse’, ‘the ...

It’s me you gotta make happy

Andrea Brady: John Wieners, 29 July 2021

Yours Presently: The Selected Letters of John Wieners 
edited by Michael Seth Stewart.
New Mexico, 333 pp., £60, December 2020, 978 0 8263 6204 9
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... The person who most encouraged him to ‘meditate upon himself’ was the straight poet Charles Olson. Wieners first encountered Olson at a reading on the night of Hurricane Hazel in 1954. Olson offered him a loan for tuition, room and board at Black Mountain College, and ...

Her Body or the Sea

Ian Patterson: Ann Quin, 21 June 2018

The Unmapped Country: Stories and Fragments 
by Ann Quin.
And Other Stories, 192 pp., £10, January 2018, 978 1 911508 14 4
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... of Europeans, especially the Surrealists and Paul Celan, and to the work of Americans such as Charles Olson, Ed Dorn, Jack Spicer or Frank O’Hara and the New York poets. When I look back on it now, it’s clear that Quin’s writing sits more easily alongside this internationalist milieu. She was always critical of English narrowness and its ...

Going Electric

Patrick McGuinness: J.H. Prynne, 7 September 2000

Poems 
by J.H. Prynne.
Bloodaxe/Folio/Fremantle Arts Centre, 440 pp., £25, March 2000, 1 85224 491 7
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Pearls that Were 
by J.H. Prynne.
Equipage, 28 pp., £4, March 1999, 1 900968 95 9
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Triodes 
by J.H. Prynne.
Barque, 42 pp., £4, December 1999, 9781903488010
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Other: British and Irish Poetry since 1970 
edited by Richard Caddel and Peter Quartermain.
Wesleyan, 280 pp., $45, March 1999, 0 8195 2241 4
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... book and enables us to identify two important early influences: Donald Davie and Charles Olson. The rest of his work has appeared from small presses and in little magazines. It has been regular and prolific: more than two dozen books or pamphlets to date, of which two – Pearls that Were and Triodes – appeared last year after the ...

Flirting with Dissolution

Mark Ford: August Kleinzahler, 5 April 2001

Live from the Hong Kong Nile Club: Poems 1975-90 
by August Kleinzahler.
Faber, 82 pp., £8.99, September 2000, 0 571 20428 7
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... memories of childhood, and his now ageing parents so lightly side by side. ‘One perception,’ Charles Olson decreed in ‘Projective Verse’ in 1950, ‘must immediately and directly lead to a further perception.’ Kleinzahler’s poetry abides by this tenet, but he softens and smoothes the connections so that we hardly notice them being ...

Just a smack at Grigson

Denis Donoghue, 7 March 1985

Montaigne’s Tower, and Other Poems 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Secker, 72 pp., £5.95, October 1984, 0 436 18806 6
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Collected Poems: 1963-1980 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 256 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 557 3
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The Faber Book of Reflective Verse 
edited by Geoffrey Grigson.
Faber, 238 pp., £7.95, October 1984, 0 571 13299 5
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Blessings, Kicks and Curses 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 279 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 0 85031 558 1
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The Private Art: A Poetry Notebook 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Allison and Busby, 231 pp., £4.95, October 1984, 9780850315592
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Before the Romantics: An Anthology of the Enlightenment 
by Geoffrey Grigson.
Salamander, 349 pp., £5.95, September 1984, 0 907540 59 7
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... etc? If he despises William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas, Gertrude Stein, Robert Lowell, Charles Olson, Edith Sitwell, Augustus John and Ted Hughes, what’s the merit of vulgarity and spleen? Many trees have been cut down to make the paper on which Grigson has spewed his contempt for teachers, critics, literary editors, the scholars who retain ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation, 8 September 2016

... by a small, distinguished group, including Spicer, Snyder, Kyger, Robin Blaser, Robert Duncan, Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, John Wieners, Ed Dorn, among others – as a colleague rather than a Beat figurehead. He was given a Guggenheim grant the same year and bought a VW camper van. His idea, I guess, was that he and his lover Peter Orlovsky would ...

Enlarging Insularity

Patrick McGuinness: Donald Davie, 20 January 2000

With the Grain: Essays on Thomas Hardy and Modern British Poetry 
by Donald Davie.
Carcanet, 346 pp., £14.95, October 1998, 1 85754 394 7
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... a number of essays, directly or obliquely related, spanning almost forty years: on Basil Bunting, Charles Tomlinson, Ted Hughes, Robert Graves, Hugh MacDiarmid, J.M. Synge, David Jones, George Steiner, Geoffrey Hill, Elizabeth Daryush and the fraternity of poets anthologised by Andrew Crozier and Tim Longville in A Various Art. It also includes a number of ...

Dysfunctional Troglodytes with Mail-Order Weaponry

Iain Sinclair: Edward Dorn, 11 April 2013

Collected Poems 
by Edward Dorn.
Carcanet, 995 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84777 126 1
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... holes in sponsored periodicals. The scene was being set for the arrival in Colchester of Charles Olson, last rector of the now collapsed and dispersed Black Mountain College, theorist and psychopomp of ‘Projective Verse’ and open-field poetics, author of the great post-Poundian epic The Maximus Poems, and headline star of Donald Allen’s ...

What Life Says to Us

Stephanie Burt: Robert Creeley, 21 February 2008

The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley: 1945-75 
California, 681 pp., £12.55, October 2006, 0 520 24158 4Show More
The Collected Poems of Robert Creeley: 1975-2005 
California, 662 pp., £29.95, October 2006, 0 520 24159 2Show More
On Earth: Last Poems and an Essay 
by Robert Creeley.
California, 89 pp., £12.95, April 2006, 0 520 24791 4
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Selected Poems: 1945-2005 
by Robert Creeley, edited by Benjamin Friedlander.
California, 339 pp., $21.95, January 2008, 978 0 520 25196 0
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... sympathetic reader with just a bit more experience than his own. He found one. ‘It is really Charles Olson I must thank for whatever freedom I have as a poet,’ Creeley remembered, ‘and I would value him equally with Pound and Williams.’ Olson and Creeley began corresponding in 1950 – Williams seems to have ...

Mansions in Bloom

Ruth Richardson, 23 May 1991

A Paradise out of a Common Field: The Pleasures and Plenty of the Victorian Garden 
by Joan Morgan and Alison Richards.
Century, 256 pp., £16.95, May 1990, 0 7126 2209 8
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Private Gardens of London 
by Arabella Lennox-Boyd.
Weidenfeld, 224 pp., £25, September 1990, 0 297 83025 2
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The Greatest Glasshouse: The Rainforest Recreated 
edited by Sue Minter.
HMSO, 216 pp., £25, July 1990, 0 11 250035 8
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Religion and Society in a Cotswold Vale: Nailsworth, Gloucestershire, 1780-1865 
by Albion Urdank.
California, 448 pp., $47.50, May 1990, 0 520 06670 7
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... and Urdank discusses the implications of this. The book’s epigraph is taken from a poem by Charles Olson, and urges: ‘whatever you have to say, leave the roots on... just to make clear where they came from.’ Urdank has tried to do precisely that. The book is local history of a particular kind: it is a book which addresses matters of national ...

Omdamniverous

Ian Sansom: D.J. Enright, 25 September 2003

Injury Time: A Memoir 
by D.J. Enright.
Pimlico, 183 pp., £12.50, May 2003, 9781844133154
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... seem always to have amused him and stimulated him, and made him want to write in the first place. Charles Olson once wrote of Melville that ‘he read to write,’ which is a profound tribute: it’s certainly better than writing to be read. One of the reasons we enjoy reading Enright is because we want to know what he’s been reading – Pascal and ...
Shelf Life: Essays, Memoirs and an Interview 
by Thom Gunn.
Faber, 230 pp., £14.99, July 1994, 0 571 17196 6
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... book’, for him, because it narrows the ground of American poetry, excluding the two extremes of Charles Olson (‘the poet who actually feared closure, each rhyme an exclusion’) and J.V. Cunningham (‘who saw language as the mark of human choice, each phrase a closure, each rhyme an exclusion’). It is clear from his own poetry and from his ...

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