Poet Charles Olson was born in Worcester, Massachusetts, and spent many of the summers of his youth with his parents at the seaside town of Gloucester, north of Boston. Gloucester later became his adoptive hometown and the muse for much of his writing.
Image: Charles Olson with mother and father in Gloucester (1918). Photographs of Charles Olson from the Charles Olson Research Collection, Archives and Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries are used with permission.
Asheville, North Carolina: BMC
Charles Olson first visited Black Mountain College in 1948 as a visiting lecturer and was hired as a professor in 1951. Olson succeeded Josef Albers as the school’s rector, holding that position until the college’s closure in 1957. Through his connections with numerous young poets, including Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan, Black Mountain College became an important site in the advancement of American poetry. Olson’s poetry and his ideas about composition would inspire the Beat Generation of poets based in San Francisco.
Image: Jonathan Williams, "Charles Olson", 1951. Gelatin silver print, 14 7⁄8 x 14 7⁄8 inches. Courtesy Western Regional Archives, State Archives of North Carolina, Asheville, NC.
After Black Mountain closed, Charles Olson settled in Gloucester, Massachusetts. The town served as the central inspiration of his three-volume experimental opus The Maximus Poems, written from the mid-1940s until his death and encompassing more than three hundred poems.
Video: Charles Olson reads 'Maximus to Gloucester, Letter 27 [withheld]' (Mar 1966) NET film youtube.com/watch?v=gAYxpSjkyA