Charles Olson never fully endorsed Joel Oppenheimer's poetry. This disturbed Joel, but Olson was correct; Joel wasn't an Olson guy. Joel was, to be sure, a Black Mountain College poet, he learned from Olson, but he was as much & probably more a William Carlos Williams, Paul Goodman, M.C. Richards Black Mountain Poet, those very different influences jostling each other in his poems, along with archy the cockroach. Olson was too much an ideologist. I gave Olson his due as best I understood him, but I don't like him much.* His use of American vernacular rarely sounds comfortable. He was a bully - intellectually & literally as an intimidating physically large man, & some young poet ought to have given him a well-deserved punch in the nose. Projectivism is as unnecessary a "school" as one might imagine it - who needs manifestoes? Paul Blackburn
was a far, far superior "open field" poet. I spent a lot of time with Blackburn's writing, eventually putting it aside in my own poems except for his wonderful Provencal "translations." Oppenheimer came to realize Olson no longer mattered much even to Olson's own disciples. & that's about the time I met Joel.
* Talented poets disappeared into Olsonite masters programs at a few select universities & emerged several years later writing cramped, indecipherable poems. I knew one, He was a nice guy. I said to him once in a rare display of literary candor, "Your poems sound wonderful but I don't know what the hell they mean. This bothers me because obviously you intend them to mean something. I don't write many poems with the intention to mean anything."
Labels: about writing
"If a nation expects to be ignorant and free, in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be." Thomas Jefferson