Thursday, January 8, 2009

"Gloucester's 'Polis' moving forward"

Michael David Rubin reflected on James Cook's recent lecture about Charles Olson's "The Maximus Poems" in yesterday's Gloucester Times.

Gloucester's 'Polis' moving forward
I learned little, Saturday, about Olson or "The Maximus Poems;" However, I saw and heard a community-within-a-community, of people who know and care about poetry; many of whom had met and valued Charles Olson, a large and large-hearted thinker who once dwelt among us. It showed me the diverse, multileveled character of our city, and why I love being a part of this place. Imagine — how wonderful is it? — to have fishermen, and poets, painters, playwrights, craftsmen, and history, architecture, woodlands, and the whole damn ocean: what a place!
The character Maximus embodied Olson's own fear about the encroachment of sameness in Gloucester. Rubin
articulates well his regret that Olson chose poetry—often difficult, hard to parse, sometimes easy to become dated or seem irrelevant—over direct prose... even though some surely disagree with this literary criticism.
My own wish is that he had kept to that strong talent, and committed his deep fears about loss of Gloucester's character — loss of our authentic culture — to the form of direct essays, to convey clearly his great heart and generous convictions. It would have provided for both his talent and his ethical concerns a well-delineated voice, easier to protect from critics' smothering, modernity's homogenizing, or, worse, being ignored by us.

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