Dec 27, 2012

'A mode of a priesthood in a church forever'


The poet Charles Olson was born 102 years ago today.

Olson, in a terribly, hilariously cranky interview with the the Paris Review, said of his poetry,
I write a poem simply to create a mode of a priesthood in a church forever, so that a poem for me is simply the first sound realized in the modality of being. If you want to talk about actuality, let’s talk about actuality. And it falleth like a doom upon us all. But it falleth from above, and if that's not straight the whole thing is doodled and if straight then you can modality all you want. You can do anything, literally. Right? That I think is one of the exciting possibilities of the present. Modal throughout -- that's what I love about today’s kids. I like them because I think they’re modaled throughout. I don’t think their teachers are at all. I mean I'm almost like astringent here. I sit back in my lollipop Gloucester and don't do anything. A dirty lousy cop-out. I remember way back when I was young, ten years ago. I was lobbing 'em in. Now it's the Vietnam War. Dig? You follow me? It was marvelous. Playing catch, if I may say that -- with a European audience as well. But I mean catch -- we were playing catch. And he's a goddamn nice fielder. All that Jewish Bronx shit. I don’t mean because it’s Jewish. It’s this late Jewish, late east Bronx literature which to a geologist like me is just uninteresting. A geochronologist geologist. The world machines -- that’s what they got now. The world machines. When will government cease being a nuisance to everybody.
Elsewhere, perhaps in a different mood, perhaps more seriously, he said, "right form, in any given poem, is the only and exclusively possible extension of content under hand."