The performing arts teachers included John Cage, Merce Cunningham, Lou Harrison, Roger Sessions, David Tudor, and Stefan Wolpe. Guest lecturers included Albert Einstein, Clement Greenberg, and William Carlos Williams.Among the literature teachers and students were Robert Creeley, Fielding Dawson, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan, Paul Goodman, Francine du Plessix Gray, Hilda Morley, Charles Olson, M. In 1950, Charles Olson published his seminal essay, Projective Verse.
Because reality, as viewed from a Romantic perspective, is always a “process,” then poetry must engage in that process.
For Olson, poetry was not the “mirror held up to nature” that the pre-Romantics had proposed but a physical engagement with life’s very energies and, therefore, an enactment of life itself. by way of the poem itself to, all the way over to, the reader.
Only when one becomes conscious of one’s proper position within nature’s laws will one be able to stop destroying nature as well as oneself; one may even become of use.
Part of Olson’s project to reenergize American poetry was very much connected to a humble recognition of humanity’s place in nature, which, Olson hoped, would constitute a radical modification in the human stance toward reality.
Dorn had asked Olson for a list of required readings, and Olson showed him how to use it: “Best thing to do is it. And you’re in, forever.” Edward Dorn did exactly that after leaving Black Mountain: He devoted years of research to the American West and specifically to the Shoshone Indian tribe.
Olson had taken his own advice and began gathering information of all kinds on his own hometown, Gloucester, Massachusetts, which eventually became the subject matter for his monumental .Human attempts to control the powers of nature and the resulting chaos that such self-destructive behavior produces became one of Olson’s principal themes throughout his poetry and prose.Olson perpetually used various versions of the mythic motif of the Fall, disengaging it from any specifically Christian contexts.“He can go by no track other than the one the poem under hand declares, for itself . The length of the line should be determined “from the breath, from the breathing of the man who writes, at the moment that he writes.” His evidence for what more conservative critics saw as an outrageous oversimplification of the rules of prosody was to go back to the etymological root of the word “is” and point out that the Aryan root “as” meant “to breathe.” Olson, true to his philosophical belief that “things” precede theory, had written one of his greatest poems the previous year, “The Kingfishers” (1949), from which he had derived the principles of his new poetics. Eliot’s “wasteland” motif by including natural cyclicity as redemptive rather than relentlessly mechanistic.This poem’s form is indeed an extension of its content, thereby fulfilling the major requirement of an open-field composition. It also proposes a major reorientation away from the despair and ennui of the last stages of the Austro-Hungarian Empire, which Eliot’s documents, toward a revaluation of the ancient civilizations of the West as Olson explores the Mayan ruins of Yucatán.One of the important keys to understanding Olson’s highly complex prose and poetry is the fact that he was also one of the greatest and most effective teachers in the history of American pedagogy.The success of his students as writers and artists attests his powerful classroom presence.His essays and poetry also consistently teach his readers the most important lesson: learning how to learn on their own.His advice to the young poet Edward Dorn at Black Mountain College in 1955 is a case in point. And then U KNOW everything else very fast: one saturation job (it might take 14 years).Olson redefines what poetry is in “Projective Verse”: “A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it . Okay.” For many modern artists and philosophers in the early twentieth century, knowledge had become an open field in which an observer recognizes patterns rather than creating them.Olson believed that the poet must follow suit and must work in the open; he must avoid the old rules of the iambic pentameter line, regular rhythm, and rhyme. FORM IS NEVER MORE THAN AN EXTENSION OF CONTENT.” The rhythm should be established by the “musical phrase” that Pound exhorted and not by the stultifying regularity of the metronome that traditionalists follow.