Rain Taxi review of Olson and Prynne Letters

Patrick James Dunagan reviews The Collected Letters of Charles Olson and J.H. Prynne in the latest summer edition of Rain Taxi (23:2, #90), which you can find here. He also reviews two Duncan/Olson texts: An Open Map: The Correspondence of Robert Duncan and Charles Olson and Imagining Persons: Robert Duncan’s Lectures on Charles Olson, both edited by Robert J. Bertholf and Dale M. Smith.

Dunagan writes:

Publication of each poet’s complete correspondence with Olson, along with Duncan’s long awaited lectures on Olson, provide yet further testament to the impact of his work. But these are not easy books to read and get through. What is contained in them is not information to be consumed and passed on by means of whatever economy imaginable. This is pretty raw stuff. The correspondence represents poet lore as handed back-and-forth between practitioners […]

While I appreciate him pointing out the nevertheless rather obscure reference to John Thorpe (which I omitted) embedded within Olson’s rambles, he doesn’t really dive into the most interesting aspects of the Letters, at least not in my estimation; these would be Prynne’s impassioned interpretations of Maximus, the shared emphasis on poetic knowledge, and the various poetic etymological and bibliographical assemblages of information, perhaps most intriguingly encapsulated within The Draft Bibliography on England. But yes, I agree, “pretty raw stuff”. Why should it be any other way?