Thursday, September 1, 2011

Aimless Reading: The O's, Part 5.18 (Charles Olson)

Olson Charles
Creeley, Robert
Charles Olson & Robert Creeley: The Complete Correspondence, Volume 1

Purchased at Talking Leaves...Books. I have no good reason for having placed this under Olson rather than Creeley, other than to say that I once had another copy, which I gave to Cuban poet Carlos Aguilera, who had translated some Creeley and who had asked that I send him as much of his work as possible. I sent him a stack of Creeley books, among which was the first volume of his correspondence with Olson. When I replaced it, I decided that that had been the Creeley version and that this was the Olson version.

So there you have it.

This is the only volume of their correspondence I own. Parts of it are great, but I have always found it difficult to engage with these letters. I found parts of them useful when I was working on papers in graduate school, but I find sitting down to read them for pleasure almost impossible because of the insanely complex telegraphic syntax. For example:

Have your poems at hand. These are too much–unlike what I had seen; forgive, etc. But the others didn't make it for me, and, perhaps, useless to go into that here. Except to say that you have my vote on the matters of language, etc. It was, in those, that I couldn't come to it, etc., but as you will.

When I read this, it sounds like a telegraph being read aloud in an old movie, with the word STOP at every pause. After a while, it drives me mad.

Have your poems at hand STOP These are too much STOP unlike what I had seen STOP forgive STOP But the others didn't make it for me STOP and STOP perhaps STOP useless to go into that here STOP Except to say that you have my vote on the matters of language STOP It was STOP in those STOP that I couldn't come to it STOP but as you will STOP
See what I mean?

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