Baker & Taylor
Creeley selects from each of his works those pieces he considers his best, in his familiar spare and subtle styleUniversity of California Press
"I have assumed a great deal in the selection of the poems from such a large and various number, making them a discourse unavoidably my own as well as any Olson himself might have chosen to offer. I had finally no advice but the long held habit of our using one another, during his life, to act as a measure, a bearing, an unabashed response to what either might write or say."Robert CreeleyBlackwell North Amer
A seminal figure in post-World War II literature, Charles Olson has helped define the postmodern sensibility. His poetry embraces themes of empowering love, political responsibility, the wisdom of dreams, the intellect as a unit of energy, the restoration of the archaic, and the transformation of consciousnessall carried in a voice both intimate and grand, American and timeless, impassioned and coolly demanding.
In this selection of some 70 poems, Robert Creeley has sought to present a personal reading of Charles Olson's decisive and inimitable work"unequivocal instances of his genius"over the many years of their friendship.
Charles Olson, the poet who coined the word post-modern and helped shape the generation that would emerge under its mantle, is known for the immense range of his intellectual and poetic reach. Here, in this selection by Robert Creeley, Olson's personal friend and literary ally, is the more "intimate order" of the poet who sought to embrace all of history and human thought.
Olson came from working-class immigrant roots in a Massachusetts mill town. A scholar of profound originality and vision, he worked for Roosevelt's administration during the war years, then at Black Mountain, the prototypical experimental college and enclave of avantgarde writers and artists. In 1957 he settled in Gloucester, a town on the shore north of Boston where he had spent summers as a child. It was Gloucester, with its richness of history and human use, that provided the ground of The Maximus Poems, begun as letters some years before and which over the next two decades grew into a masterwork of epic dimensions.
From the more than three hundred poems making up The Maximus Poems and the comparable number in Olson's Collected Poems, Creeley's selection makes available for the first time an essential sampling of Olson's poetry. Included are paradigmatic early works like "The Kingfishers," which Guy Davenport called "the most modern of American poems, the most energetically influential text in the last thirty-five years," as well as familiar pieces from Maximus like "Maximus, to Gloucester" and "Celestial Evening." Also represented are less known poems, such as "The chain of memory is resurrection" and "The Lamp," works that reveal a more personal side of this major American poet.
Together these poems demonstrate Olson's genius and grace, a poet as at home in Gloucester as in the cosmos, a reckoner with dreams and myths, and "Western man at the limit of himself."