Monday, April 06, 2009

Polis is This: Charles Olson and the Persistance of Place

For those, like myself, who weren’t fortunate enough to catch this on PBS, you can now watch Polis is This: Charles Olson and the Persistance of Place in its entirety on the net. I recommend it highly. It’s a film, beautifully produced, that goes some way in doing justice to one of the greatest American poets of the 20th century. As well as Olson- including footage that I’d never seen before- and his son Charlie, the film features John Malkovich, who reads a handful of Olson’s poems, Robert Creeley, Amiri Baraka, Diane DiPrima, Pete Seeger, Jonathan Williams, Vincent Ferrini, Anne Waldman, Charles Boer, John Sinclair, Stefan Wolpe, Charles Stein, Michael Rumaker & Black Mountain College. I only met Olson once, at a party at Panna Grady’s house following Olson’s reading at the London Poetry Festival that took place at the South Bank way back in 1967, just a few years before Olson died. We had a lengthy conversation that seemed to center on the 1948 Democratic Convention (Olson was, of course, a Henry Wallace supporter). One of my regrets is that I was never able to study with him. But his writings are more than enough to go on. Every literate person owes it to themselves to have a look at the early Maximus Poems, Human Universe and the Mayan Letters. Thanks to Henry Ferrini and Ferrini Productions for this wonderful film.

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