Sharon Doubiago on Charles Olson

Sharon Doubiago says: Charles Olson was definitely my Father poet.

I myself think that most poets have parents in poetry. Who are yours?

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Here is a thoughtful–and useful–look at Olson’s poetics and influence by Doubiago. She writes:

In Charles Olson and Frances Boldereff, A Modern Correspondence, there is an early draft of Olson’s famous/infamous essay on his Projective Verse notions. He sends it to her. I’m startled to discover that one of my own fundamental discoveries is in this essay. It took me ten years from reading that essay to finding it myself, not realizing/remembering that it came from him. Though then, having not written a single poem, I would not have understood it. And maybe, as it felt, still feels, it was discovering a truth. The poet, Edward Hirsch, then of UC Berkeley, then of MIT, stated in an exchange with the Napa audience that finding the line breaks in writing a poem was utterly mysterious and impossible, to which I, from the audience, objected. Again, I didn’t understand that this was Olson, that part of the anger and reaction from the faculty, of which I was a part, stemmed from this ongoing argument. “If a contemporary poet leaves a space as long as the phrase before it, he [stet] means that space be held an equal length of time.” (p 165) When I discovered this fundamental law of poetry I became a real poet. In high school I had been taught, in reading a poem, to run over the line breaks. This for understanding, meaning. I came to know that this was a 19th century rule, aid in trying to read its excessive rhyming poetry. Finding/developing from this practice remains fundamental for me—to come to a stop at the end of the line. That’s where you end, where you get the rhythm.

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