‘The pictorial handwriting of his dreams’
Charles Olson, Susan Howe, Redell Olsen
in Contemporary Olson
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Susan Howe's early work is made in the bulky shadow of Charles Olson. There are many ways of linking Howe to Olson. One might discuss the relationship in terms of visual poetics. Monologic patriarchy is set against an open field; the feminine, dialogic energies of which, according to Howe, Olson was only partly able to recognise. Howe's essay on Call Me Ishmael repeats Freud's analogy between the psychic and the social, fanning out quickly into an indictment of an urge for mastery within American culture. Howe applies a similar technique in her reimagining of Olson, locating its dynamism not in the body or in breath, but in the juxtapositions of its 'spatial expressiveness'. At the beginning of the Minimaus series, Redell Olsen reproduces the map of Gloucester, Massachusetts used by Olson on the cover of the first volume of Maximus.

Editor: David Herd


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