Charles Olson

Charles Olson

The Allegory of A Poet's Life

eBook - 1991
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Publisher: New York : Norton, c1991
Edition: 1st ed
Characteristics: xi, 403 p. ; 26 cm


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Oct 29, 2018

I found this book to be very interesting and hard to put down. I'd read some of Olson's poetry and knew that he was involved in the Black Mountain College and the Black Mountain Review but I didn't know too much else about him. The guy was really a giant at 6'8" and had gigantic appetites in equal proportion. I was kind of surprised to learn that he was very emotionally unstable and quite eccentric though also extremely intelligent. He reminded me quite a bit of science fiction writer Philip K. Dick. Both men were brilliant but very insecure and depended on women to take care of more practical matters such as shopping and preparing meals etc... which they seemed to be incapable of coping with. In the case of Olson my impression is that his ideas often got ahead of him and much of his poetry is kind of incomprehensible and not that much fun to read. He really could have used an editor to trim off the excess to expose the jewels that shine within all the clutter. William Carlos Williams commented that he tended to get lost in Olson's Maximus Poems and that they tended to be a little too intellectual and lack much needed concrete imagery. But Olson was like a force of nature and his impact is still felt among writers and artists.


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