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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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... and Jeremy Prynne, Objectivists like Oppen and Reznikoff, and of course the whole group of poets associated with Black Mountain College – Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan and CharlesOlson. Of all these it was CharlesOlson 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 Olson ...

Short Cuts

Jeremy Harding: Handwriting

8 November 2012
... no reason to set off for the Black Forest with a rucksack full of virgin postcards. Compositions at the keyboard often have the fluency of the longhand draft, the letter, the note penned in haste. CharlesOlson 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 ...

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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... limited horizons of the Movement poets like Larkin and Amis and their followers, open to the influence of Europeans, especially the Surrealists and Paul Celan, and to the work of Americans such as CharlesOlson, 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 ...

Going Electric

Patrick McGuinness: J.H. Prynne

7 September 2000
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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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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... he has never republished it) rather than a first collection. It is Prynne’s most recognisably ‘traditional’ book and enables us to identify two important early influences: Donald Davie and CharlesOlson. 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 ...

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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... best effects: indeed, it is the virtual absence of syntax that allows him to lay the filthy river, his memories of childhood, and his now ageing parents so lightly side by side. ‘One perception,’ CharlesOlson 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 ...
11 April 2013
Collected Poems 
by Edward Dorn.
Carcanet, 995 pp., £25, November 2012, 978 1 84777 126 1
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... those sharky cultural bureaucrats and strategic prize-givers who fix the syllabus and polyfilla inconvenient holes in sponsored periodicals. The scene was being set for the arrival in Colchester of CharlesOlson, 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 ...

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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... up a professorship at Stanford. With the Grain reprints the Hardy book in its entirety, along with 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 ...
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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... white Tom   Shall float to Heaven – to Hardy’s ‘rather monotonously small follower Philip Larkin’, etc? If he despises William Carlos Williams, Dylan Thomas, Gertrude Stein, Robert Lowell, CharlesOlson, 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 ...

At the Centre Pompidou

Jeremy Harding: Beat Generation

7 September 2016
... a poet was assured in 1965 by an invitation to the Berkeley Poetry Conference, a two-week event attended by a small, distinguished group, including Spicer, Snyder, Kyger, Robin Blaser, Robert Duncan, CharlesOlson, 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 ...

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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... line end. But imitating Williams was not enough: like most young poets, Creeley needed an attentive, sympathetic reader with just a bit more experience than his own. He found one. ‘It is really CharlesOlson 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 – ...

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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... administration, its border status and its scattered settlement helped to foster religious nonconformity, and Urdank discusses the implications of this. The book’s epigraph is taken from a poem by CharlesOlson, 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 ...
20 April 1995
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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... poetry (published by Harvard in the US and by Faber in Britain), ‘an obviously worthless book’, for him, because it narrows the ground of American poetry, excluding the two extremes of CharlesOlson (‘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 ...

Exotic Bird from Ilford

Robert Baird: Denise Levertov

24 September 2014
Denise Levertov: A Poet’s Life 
by Dana Greene.
Illinois, 328 pp., £22.99, October 2012, 978 0 252 03710 8
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A Poet’s Revolution: The Life of Denise Levertov 
by Donna Krolik Hollenberg.
California, 515 pp., £30.95, April 2013, 978 0 520 27246 0
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Collected Poems 
by Denise Levertov.
New Directions, 1063 pp., £32.99, December 2013, 978 0 8112 2173 3
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... A.R. Ammons in 1962, ‘but as being able to jump the right way in all the unguessable emergencies of writing.’ She shared none of the world-building aspirations of her avant-garde peers. While CharlesOlson intended his Maximus Poems to rival Pound’s Cantos, and Duncan wanted to write the mythos of the nuclear age, Levertov’s subjects during this first phase of her career remained ...

Lyrics and Ironies

Christopher Ricks

4 December 1986
The Alluring Problem: An Essay on Irony 
by D.J. Enright.
Oxford, 178 pp., £12.95, October 1986, 0 19 212253 3
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Czeslaw Milosz and the Insufficiency of Lyric 
by Donald Davie.
Cambridge, 76 pp., £15, September 1986, 0 521 32264 2
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... horse stumbles as he enters Les Bertaux, the farm owned by Emma’s father, ‘the possibility of an ill omen immediately occurs to us,’ Miss Furst remarks, ‘though not to the unimaginative Charles.’ It isn’t hard for the reader to be cleverer than Charles. But what would we think of a suitor who turned back because his horse stumbled at the threshold of his loved one’s home? Or rather ...

All There Needs to Be Said

August Kleinzahler: Louis Zukofsky

22 May 2008
The Poem of a Life: A Biography of Louis Zukofsky 
by Mark Scroggins.
Shoemaker and Hoard, 555 pp., $30, December 2007, 978 1 59376 158 5
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... amorous vice longer than you wished it, marred but poignant. Catullus’ carnality makes a good foil for the severe, involuted and cerebral quality of much of Zukofsky’s own poetry. Zukofsky, like CharlesOlson and Jeremy Prynne, is a monstre sacré: his reputation precludes any serious discussion of individual pieces of work. The project is the thing, not a particular piece of writing. How we feel ...

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