On the back of the elephant
Riding with Charles Olson
in Contemporary Olson
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Charles Olson and Jack Kerouac would argue over the implications of residence and mobility, the great American neurosis about the daunting scale of the place where they found themselves, between Atlantic Ocean and seductive draw of the West. Olson contrives his theory of what he calls 'Projective Verse' as a strike at the physicality of writing which is also a measured defence of his own practice. Kerouac composes, in a sort of neighbourly rivalry, his own Essentials of Spontaneous Prose: you must not revise or self-censor. In the mid-60s, Olson comes to London with the notion of getting himself to Dorchester, in the West Country, to research John White and the impetus behind the founding of the settlement in Gloucester. Olson is locked away in his cabin in Gloucester, in Fort Square; a community of Sicilian fisherman looking out over a working harbour.

Editor: David Herd

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