Charles Olson’s insistence that the public value of any articulation is inseparable from the particulars of the time and place of its origins resulted in the proprioceptive methodology of his composition?in his speech and his writing, in both poetry and prose. Olson did not ?lecture”?he ?talked. ” His encyclopedic knowledge of the subjects that interested him engaged in a manner always as surprising to himself as to his listeners. This element of discovery was to him a true measure of what is authentic in language, and it exhibits itself most in the impromptu exchanges of which Muthologos is mainly composed. Olson once de?ned ?Muthologos” as ?what is said about what is said,” which encompasses a breadth of discourse that would de?ne the near and far range of where the poet’s mind went in a lifetime’s intent to go places. In this new compilation of Charles Olson’s transcribed lectures and interviews, we ?nally get all of what is preserved of a life of talk, allowing Muthologos to stand, along with The Maximus Poems, Collected Poems, Collected Prose and Selected Letters as one of the ?standard texts” of this great poet’s oeuvre.
Ralph Maud’s second edition of Muthologos, some thirty years after George Butterick’s ?rst, adds several new items: ?At Goddard College, April 1962”; a second Vancouver 1963 discussion, ?Duende, Muse, and Angel”; a short addition to the ?BBC Interview”; a second ?On Black Mountain”; and a further hour of Olson’s conversation with Herb Kenny. In addition, all the available tapes of these talks and interviews have been listened to again, and many of their previous transcription errors have been corrected. Textual notes to each piece identify these corrections, and also reveal the provenance of the tapes and the particular way in which each transcription was created.
Charles Olson’s first two books, Call Me Ishmael (1947), a study of Melville’s Moby Dick, and The Mayan Letters (1953), written to Robert Creeley from Mexico, cover a range of subjects?mythology, anthropology, language, and cultural history?and use the fervent informal style that were to distinguish all his discursive prose. Settling in Gloucester, Massachusetts, he devoted most of his time and energy until his death in 1970 to The Maximus Poems, his most substantial work.
Ralph Maud is the author of Charles Olson Reading (1996) and the editor of The Selected Letters of Charles Olson (2000.) He has edited much of Dylan Thomas’s work, including The Notebook Poems 1930?1934 and The Broadcasts, and is co-editor, with Walford Davies, of Dylan Thomas: The Collected Poems, 1934?1953 and Under Milk Wood. Maud is also the editor of The Salish People: Volumes I, II, III & IV by pioneer ethnographer Charles Hill-Tout. In addition, he has done extensive work on the translation collaboration between Henry W. Tate and Franz Boas, including the book, Transmission Difficulties: Franz Boas and Tsimshian Mythology.
Ralph Maud is Emeritus Professor of English and Associate of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University. He founded the Charles Olson Literary Society. He is the author of Charles Olson Reading (1996) and the editor of The Selected Letters of Charles Olson (2000.) He has edited much of Dylan Thomas’s work, including The Notebook Poems 1930–1934 and The Broadcasts, and is co-editor, with Walford Davies, of Dylan Thomas: The Collected Poems, 1934–1953 and Under Milk Wood. Maud is also the editor of The Salish People: Volumes I, II, III & IV by pioneer ethnographer Charles Hill-Tout. He has been a contributing editor to Coast Salish Essays by Wayne Suttles, The Chilliwacks and Their Neighbours by Oliver Wells, and is the author of A Guide to B.C. Indian Myth and Legend, and The Porcupine Hunter and Other Stories—a collection of Henry W. Tate’s stories in Tate’s original English, which grew out of his survey of Franz Boas’s Tsimshian work, published as an article: “The Henry Tate-Franz Boas Collaboration on Tsimshian Mythology” in American Ethnologist. Maud’s subsequently published book, Transmission Difficulties: Franz Boas and Tsimshian Mythology, expands further on the relationship between Henry Tate and Franz Boas.
“By re-inserting, and supplementing, the tape-recorded era of Olson’s poetic life, Ralph Maud continues to sustain this material as consequential and amazing. ”
“Maud depicts [Olson] functioning remarkably as a public poet, a poet thinking on his feet, and being absolutely delightful. ”
—Pacific Rim Review of Books
?Maud depicts [Olson] functioning remarkably as a public poet, a poet thinking on his feet, and being absolutely delightful. ?
? Pacific Rim Review of Books
?This new edition of Muthologos reiterates the intensity of attention that Olson brought to his final six years in the public performance of his immense poetic archaeology. These talks and interviews document the processual nature and intellectual hunger that situate his poetic imagination not only in the poem but in the range of perception that can be talked about ?with some life. ? When I heard him talk about his poem ?Place; & Names? at UBC in 1963, the poem as discourse for place and history provided a crucial tap for my own sense of poetry’s possibility. His Beloit lectures on ?The Dogmatic Nature of Experience? in 1968 coalesce and amplify his most singular pedagogy, ?Projective Verse,? as the cultural shape shifter it has been. By re-inserting, and supplementing, the tape-recorded era of Olson’s poetic life, Ralph Maud continues to sustain this material as consequential and amazing. ?
? Fred Wah
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