When Charles Olson published the essay 'Projective Verse' in New York Poetry in the Spring of 1950, he issued a set of findings that had been long in development. The clearest sense of the poem as field in 'The Kingfishers' lies, as is well documented, in its use of the space of the page itself. The way Olson uses the page to produce a field of inter-related elements, thereby calling for a reading that cuts back and forth across space and time, is undoubtedly fundamental to his poetic practice. It is possible to read the poems like this, The Maximus Poems in particular, as if Olson, in his address, were delivering a lecture, either to the reader or the inhabitants of Gloucester with whom his poem would partly speak. Few twentieth-century poets have been as fortunate in the editorial commitment and calibre of scholarship they have attracted as Olson.
In A Charles Olson Reader Ralph Maud couples 'The Resistance' with Olson's 1948 poem 'La Preface'. 'La Preface' is important in Charles Olson's career because it arrives at elements that would endure throughout his work. The short prose statement 'Resistance', written for Jean Riboud in 1949 and published in Vincent Ferrini's Gloucester-based magazine Four Winds in 1953. In 1950, the year of 'Projective Verse', Hannah Arendt published The Origins of Totalitarianism. 1950 was the year Olson himself published 'Projective Verse' in Poetry New York. A number of other documents from around that time, poems and essays, relate to that inaugural statement of open field poetics in their insistence on the need of new beginnings. Writing of The Maximus Poems are forms of thought that speak directly to the states of political exclusion and exception that were the legacy of the Second World War.