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Olson, Charles

The Oxford Companion to English Literature
Dinah BirchDinah Birch

Olson, Charles (1910–70) American poet, 

born in Worcester, Massachusetts, who became the central figure among the writers at Black Mountain College, North Carolina. Olson's theory of Objectism derives from the philosophy of A. N. Whitehead (1861–1947) and posits a perceptual field, whose consequences he outlined in the influential essay ‘Projective Verse’. Olson began publishing poetry in the late 1940s but his major sequence was The Maximus Poems, which he worked on serially from 1953 until his death (complete edition published 1980), named after a 4th‐century Phoenician mystic. The sequence combines myth, the history of migration, and New England lore centring on Gloucester, articulated through long poetical lines deriving from Walt Whitman and Ezra Pound. Olson's correspondence with Robert Creeley was published in ten volumes (1980–96). See Tom Clark, Charles Olson (1991).