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Literary Collections Diaries & Journals

After Completion

The Later Letters

by (author) Charles Olson

with Frances Boldereff

edited by Sharon Thesen & Ralph Maud

Publisher
Talonbooks
Initial publish date
Sep 2012
Category
Diaries & Journals
  • Paperback / softback

    ISBN
    9780889227064
    Publish Date
    Sep 2012
    List Price
    $24.95

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Description

After Completion: The Later Letters between modern American poet Charles Olson and typographer and Joyce scholar Frances Boldereff opens in September 1950, following a crisis that amounted to a “completion” of the major phase of their relationship. The 140 letters in this volume present a passionate relationship realized mostly in correspondence—one that was ultimately vital to Olson’s working out of his projectivist poetics. Unique among Olson’s correspondents, Boldereff embodied the interlocutor, muse, Sybil, lover, and critic, and through her engagement with Olson had an incalculable effect on twentieth-century poetry.

About the authors

Sharon Thesen is a poet, editor, and writer who was based in Vancouver, BC, before joining the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC Okanagan, Kelowna, in 2005. She is the author of eight books of poetry, the most recent The Good Bacteria (Anansi). Her books include a selected poems, News & Smoke (Talonbooks), Aurora (Talonbooks) and several titles from the 1980s and 1990s from Coach House Press. She has been involved in the Canadian and Vancouver poetry scene for many years. As an editor, she has published two editions of The New Long Poem Anthology (Talonbooks), a Governor-General’s Award-winning edition of Phyllis Webb’s poetry, The Vision Tree (Talonbooks), and, from 2001 to 2005, the literary and visual arts magazine The Capilano Review. She co-edited, with Ralph Maud, a correspondence between the poet Charles Olson and book designer Frances Boldereff, Charles Olson and Frances Boldereff: A Modern Corresepondence (Wesleyan University Press).

Sharon co-edits, with Nancy Holmes, Lake: a journal of arts and environment, which is housed in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC Okanagan, and continues to be a contributing editor of The Capilano Review. At UBC Okanagan, she teaches at all levels, including graduate workshops and undergraduate topics courses in the long poem and lyric essay.

Her book A Pair of Scissors won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and The Good Bacteria was a finalist for the Governor-General’s Award, the ReLit Award, and the Dorothy Livesay Prize. Two earlier books also were finalists for the Governor-General’s Award, and in 2002 Sharon was a member of the jury, along with American poet Sharon Olds and Irish poet Michael Longley, for the prestigious Griffin Prize for Excellence in Poetry.

Thesen’s research interests are modern, postmodern, and contemporary poetry and poetics, lyric essay and philosophical autobiography, the relationship between poetic imagination and “the real,? and the Canadian long poem. She is also interested in the aesthetics of theological and mystical writings by women, as well as the relationship between psychology and ecology, and eco-poetics.

Charles Olson's profile page

Frances Boldereff's profile page

Sharon Thesen
Sharon Thesen was born in Tisdale, Saskatchewan, in 1946. She moved to the British Columbia Interior in 1952 and lived in Prince George and Kamloops before settling in Vancouver in 1966. She is the author of several books of poetry and the former editor of the Capilano Review. She currently teaches English at Capilano College in North Vancouver and writes reviews for the Vancouver Sun.

Sharon Thesen is a poet, editor, and writer who was based in Vancouver, BC, before coming to UBC Okanagan in 2005. She is the author of eight books of poetry, the most recent The Good Bacteria (House of Anansi). Her books include a selected poems, News & Smoke, and several titles from the 1980s and '90s from Coach House Press in Toronto.

Sharon has been involved in the Canadian and Vancouver poetry scene for many years. As an editor, she has published two editions of The New Long Poem Anthology, a Governor-General’s Award-winning edition of Phyllis Webb’s poetry (The Vision Tree), and, from 2001 to 2005, the literary and visual arts magazine The Capilano Review. She co-edited, with Ralph Maud, a correspondence between the poet Charles Olson and book designer Frances Boldereff (Charles Olson and Frances Boldereff: A Modern Corresepondence, Wesleyan University Press).

Sharon co-edits, with Nancy Holmes, Lake: a journal of arts and environment, which is housed in the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC Okanagan, and continues to be a contributing editor of The Capilano Review.

Her book A Pair of Scissors won the Pat Lowther Memorial Award, and The Good Bacteria was a finalist for the Governor-General’s Award, the ReLit Award and the Dorothy Livesay Prize. Two earlier books also were finalists for the Governor-General’s Award, and in 2002 Sharon was a member of the jury, along with American poet Sharon Olds and Irish poet Michael Longley, for the prestigious Griffin Prize for Excellence in Poetry.

In addition to teaching literature and creative writing at Capilano College, Sharon has taught poetry workshops at a number of summer writing colonies, including the Banff Writing Studio, Echo Valley and St. Peter’s College, and for many years has informally mentored younger poets and writers. She has given readings at the International Festival of Authors in Toronto, the Blue Metropolis Writers’ Festival in Montreal and the New Zealand Writers’ Festival in Wellington, NZ.

Sharon’s research interests are modern, postmodern, and contemporary poetry and poetics, lyric essay and philosophical autobiography, the relationship between poetic imagination and “the real,” and the Canadian long poem. She is also interested in the aesthetics of theological and mystical writings by women, as well as the relationship between psychology and ecology, and eco-poetics. She is married, with one son and one stepson. She lives in Lake Country, BC.

Sharon Thesen's profile page

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.

Ralph Maud's profile page

Excerpt: After Completion: The Later Letters (by (author) Charles Olson; with Frances Boldereff; edited by Sharon Thesen & Ralph Maud)

[a letter from Boldereff to Olson, during his years at Black Mountain College]

 

Brooklyn to Black Mountain
[26 November 1953]

 

                                              Thanksgiving

 

Charles dear—

 

 A very nice black special delivery man brought the exquisite package last night—and I stayed up to read it through—It is now before breakfast and I hasten to tell you, though as you can guess, there is very much which I am not sure of at this first reading, that the primary adjective which comes up to me is clean—that in some marvelous transposition the very air of a Gloucesterman's boat has somehow been made to blow—that the pages are intensely clean and male.  That they come to me as Ishmael did with a wondrous healing at an hour most needed (I had precisely at five last night a big blow out with my boss).  But above all, I want to tell you that this last two weeks I am steeped in Rimbaud's La Chasse Spirituelle which I ordered from France and in the light of all that sacred holy thing discloses of Rimbaud's sufferings (I cannot wait to show and talk to you about it) in that high light--where I was touchy and fussy as a priest in his sanctuary—Maximus seems the next direct step—it comes over big, Olson--clean as clean—and while it requires, as always, very much hard work on my part to decipher in detail--it has already delivered its message to me and I would say comes out as in absolute, direct succession to La Chasse.

 

 I have found a book which you also must see, "The Sacred Tree Script"—explains things in Rimbaud, in Plato and refers in ways I want to discuss with you to your "Gate and the Center"—very wonderful discovery, to me, and I now think--I can practically draw a literal line of exactly how and where the thing has traveled from the beginning of "man's motion"—is not that what you called it?

 

 There were several beautiful things that struck me as I read so hastily—

 

 "In the midst of plenty, walk..."

 

this whole passage through to the end of this Song is genuine song and I hope will be made a song and sung by someone who feels its music as I do and can hum a tune, as I can not.

 

It is a strange thing to be a woman—to be as full of your thing you could burst—and yet to have no outlet—I feel my thing growing to a size and a clarity inside me that you'd think it would have to break through in some form—yet I can neither sing, compose, write prose or verse, draw, sculpt or any of all those blood passages--perhaps I can squeeze it out into my house, which I am still determined to build before I die!

 

One other thing—I have an article from the architect Deitrick, on his terrific State Fair Arena at Raleigh, N.C.  Most exciting building of the modern world—go to Raleigh if you possibly can—and see it—as I plan to whenever I can swing the money—Charles—in that building you will find everything which makes genuine polis--one of the great achievements. And the result of what cooperation and creative joint activity. Please hunt up Engineering News Record—February 5 1953 an article "Curved Roof on cables spans big arena" and you will thrill to see proof that Gloucester is now in Raleigh, N.C.

 

                                      Your loving Frances

 

I only realized a few days ago that the dwarf letter disturbed you --that was not innuendo, Charles—it was straight child—and referred to physical head only—and my remarks, to trying to delve into cause, why, against the obvious, I felt it to be so physically accurate. It all has to do with a play I saw as a child which has become a kind of legend to Lucinda and means something neither of us can convey but which we are clear about, completely, entre nous.

Editorial Reviews

“Lovers to the end, Olson and Boldereff remained faithfully bonded by the central role that imagination and art played in each of their lives. Their mutual admiration for each other’s intellect was left untarnished by any personal failure. In this volume of letters, it is Boldereff who appears the stronger of the two on all accounts. She never wavers in her interest in Olson as both a man and an artist. … If there’s any benefit to come from having this correspondence made available, it should surely bring about greater attention to the sharp interrelating of Joyce and Blake accomplished by Boldereff in her books. Her work receives too little the acknowledgement it richly deserves.”
Bookslut

“Boldereff, while appearing to serve her pantheon of ‘great men,’ puts them into her service. This book is not the fiery Olson workshop of the previous volume. Boldereff here enters the period of her own working, beginning with her manifesto Credo in Unam … it is a call for a new woman, a woman who is strong, independent, sexually liberated, and within whose ambit man can find his own maturity, as they enter the new age together … Boldereff’s books are strange but not delirious. Her work on Joyce is substantial … ”
The Capilano Review

“What is stunning about this collection is the density of intellectual and cultural observations by both participants in this dialogue – and the ways in which Boldereff and Olson’s mythopoetic shoptalk quickly shifted in and out of the amorous and plainly erotic, which here so often serve as the groundwork of the intellectual and cultural materials.”
— Andrew Mossin

“What is stunning about this collection is the density of intellectual and cultural observations by both participants in this dialogue – and the ways in which Boldereff and Olson’s mythopoetic shoptalk quickly shifted in and out of the amorous and plainly erotic, which here so often serve as the groundwork of the intellectual and cultural materials.”
—Andrew Mossin

“Lovers to the end, Olson and Boldereff remained faithfully bonded by the central role that imagination and art played in each of their lives. Their mutual admiration for each other’s intellect was left untarnished by any personal failure. In this volume of letters, it is Boldereff who appears the stronger of the two on all accounts. She never wavers in her interest in Olson as both a man and an artist. … If there’s any benefit to come from having this correspondence made available, it should surely bring about greater attention to the sharp interrelating of Joyce and Blake accomplished by Boldereff in her books. Her work receives too little the acknowledgement it richly deserves.”
Bookslut

“Boldereff, while appearing to serve her pantheon of ‘great men,’ puts them into her service. This book is not the fiery Olson workshop of the previous volume. Boldereff here enters the period of her own working, beginning with her manifesto Credo in Unam … it is a call for a new woman, a woman who is strong, independent, sexually liberated, and within whose ambit man can find his own maturity, as they enter the new age together … Boldereff’s books are strange but not delirious. Her work on Joyce is substantial … ”
The Capilano Review

Other titles by Charles Olson

Other titles by Sharon Thesen

Other titles by Ralph Maud