Lizards in the Leaves

Rustlings in the green....imagination, art, whimsy

Dec 19, 2011

Poetry Ahead: Charles Olson

I just took one of those cyberspace wandering journeys of serendipity.
It began when I clicked a friend's link on Facebook - a link to a new MIT initiative in putting courses onine which led to:

MIT OpenCourseWare, 
current MIT courses online where I clicked on:

materials for a course in poetry which used the 1999 edition of Allen's The New American Poetry and began with the assignment to read:

Charles Olson's Kingfishers  which led to:

1. me getting up and searching my bookshelves for my copy of The New American Poetry (a trade paperback edition from the 60s)
2. reading Kingfishers.
3. going back online to the MIT course and going to:

a link to the American Academy of Poets page on Charles Olson which led to:

me looking for his 1950 "influential essay "Projective Verse" " which I found here at the Poetry Foundation site, read just a fraction and have made a copy to print and read later.

And throughout this journey, I was googling a bit,  reading, and searching YouTube and watching and listening:

The Kingfishers

By Charles Olson
What does not change / is the will to change
He woke, fully clothed, in his bed. He
remembered only one thing, the birds, how
when he came in, he had gone around the rooms
and got them back in their cage, the green one first,
she with the bad leg, and then the blue,
the one they had hoped was a male....

So what am I thinking after this journey?

That I intend to read "Projective Verse" and think about breath and poetry.
That I'll read more Olson.
That I'll explore the Black Mountain school of poetry.
That I won't need to get a copy of the newer edition of The New American 40+ year old copy ($2.95 cover price, but which I apparently paid .35 for* )  is spine-broken, but it's a sewn binding, not glued, and seems like it's got quite a bit of life yet.
That I'm reminded, once again, how little I know and how much there is to know.
That I need to remember that I can't know everything, that perhaps all I'm meant to know is just what comes to me from the great world, what I encounter as I breathe in it, as I wander in it.

*I recognize the handwriting in that .35 penciled price on the front free endpaper, so I know just where I got this book, if not exactly when. I got it at one of the Indiana State University used book sales for the American Association of University Women, which used to be my annual birthday-present-to-myself. They were always held in late September, when we had run out of money over the summer, so it was wonderful to be able to spend $20 and come home with bags of books. The price was written by the late Elizabeth Bevington, who volunteered her pricing expertise and clerked at the sales. She was one of my mentors in the business of selling used, out-of-print, collectible books. She was from the pre-internet days. She didn't have a television. She carried on her business  (Books Below, in the basement of her home) with a typewriter (manual) and 3X5 cards and the ABA listings of books wanted. I bought lots of books directly from her and I even have a book that was hers when she was a child, Legends Every Child Should Know by Hamilton Wright Mabie. Her name was Elizabeth Hodson then. Then was 1916.
Amazing what seeing that penciled .35 evoked. I'm thinking about Nicholson Baker now.
And now I'll stop.




Post a Comment

<< Home