‘To Gerhardt, There, Among Europe’s Things of Which He Has Written Us in His “Brief an Creeley und Olson’’’
Olson on history, in dialogue
in Contemporary Olson
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In 1954 Charles Olson wrote a short review of Ernst Robert Curtius European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. This chapter describes the early 1950s transatlantic poetic exchange between Olson and Rainer Maria Gerhardt, a German poet, Pound translator and editor of the literary magazine fragmente. Despite the parallel concern for creative experience, and the sympathy Olson felt towards Gerhardt and Curtius, Olson couldn't laud European Literature and the Latin Middle Ages. Olson's remark that he 'had sniffed typology in Gerhardt's longish poem, "Brief an Creeley und Olson"', echoes his correspondence with Robert Creeley. Creeley is critical of Gerhardt's tendency to uphold a theory of poetry that doesn't correspond to his practice. When the 'Brief an Creeley und Olson' reached Creeley in February 1951 he wrote Olson that he thought it 'pretty damn good', despite its heavy leaning on Ezra Pound.

Editor: David Herd


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