|Charles Olson Biography||
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Charles Olson (27 December 1910 – 10 January 1970) was an important 2nd generation United States poetry modernist poetry poet who was a crucial link between earlier figures like Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams and the The New American Poetry 1945-1960, a rubric which includes the New York School, the Black Mountain poets, the Beat poets, and the San Francisco Renaissance. Subsequently, many postmodern groups, such as the poets of the Language School, include Olson as a primary and precedent figure. He is credited as one of the thinkers who coined the term postmodernism.
Olson was born and grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts and studied at Wesleyan University and Harvard. Attracted by the social and political ideas of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, he joined the American Civil Liberties Union in 1941. He worked in the Office of War Information until 1944, when he left because of censorship of his news releases. Olson then decided to dedicate himself to writing.
Olson's first book was Call Me Ishmael (1947), a study of Herman Melville's novel Moby Dick which was based on his unsubmitted Harvard Doctor of Philosophy thesis. In Projective Verse, Olson called for a poetic metre (poetry) based on the breath of the poet and an open construction based on sound and the linking of perceptions rather than syntax and logic. The poem 'The Kingfishers', first published in 1949 and collected in his first book of poetry, In Cold Hell, in Thicket (1953), is an outstanding application of the manifesto. His second collection, The Distances was published in 1960. Olson served as rector of the Black Mountain College from 1951 to 1956. During this period, the college supported work by John Cage, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Duncan (poet), Jonathan Williams (poet), Ed Dorn and many other members of the 1950s American avant garde.
The Maximus Poems
In 1950, inspired by the example of Pound's Cantos (though Olson denied any direct relation between the two epics), Olson began writing The Maximus Poems, a project that was to remain unfinished at the time of his death. An exploration of American history in the broadest sense, Maximus is also an epic of place, Massachusetts and specifically the city of Gloucester, Massachusetts where Olson had settled. The work is also mediated through the voice of Maximus, based partly on Maximus of Tyre, an itinerant Ancient Greece philosopher and partly on Olson himself. The final, unfinished volume imagines an ideal Gloucester in which communal values have replaced commercial ones.
Charles Olson was a giant, literally as well as figuratively. He is believed to have been about 6 foot 6-7 inches, and large for his height. He therefore tended to physically dominate any room he entered, which often made him uncomfortable. Olson wrote copious personal letters, and was very helpful and encouraging to many young writers. He was fascinated with Mayan writing. Shortly before his death, he examined the possibility that Chinese and Indo-European languages derived from a common source. He enjoyed hand-fishing for halibut in a small boat off Gloucester. One of his artistic allies in Gloucester, novelist Jonathan Bayliss, modeled the character of "Ipsissimus Charlemagne" in his Gloucesterbook after Olson.
Courtesy of: http://www.wikipedia.org/