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This article is taken from PN Review 161, Volume 31 Number 3, January - February 2005.

Black Mountain in England 1 Ian Brinton

In an interview with Robert Walker, published in Angel Exhaust 13, Roger Langley talks of the background to his writing with special relevance to the poem 'Matthew Glover':

I didn't start writing until I found out about American poetry. There was Donald Davie at Cambridge who talked about Pound. But Davie never talked about Olson. It was really Olson who convinced me that I might write something myself.

So that something like 'Matthew Glover' is a fairly naïve attempt to do a miniscule Olson in an English setting. I'm not sure that I even thought that as I did it, but it so obviously is now: with willow warblers instead of kingfishers and an open verse system, a field verse system, moving in open paragraphs... I used to respect so much that Olson remark about 'the dance of little syllables'... So I was trying to watch little syllables that weren't particularly onomatopoeic or imitative in any particular way at all back at that stage, and think primarily about 'areal subject matter' as Dorn would say.


The reference to 'the dance of little syllables' comes from Olson's seminal essay, 'Projective Verse' (Poetry New York No. 3, 1950):

Let's start from the smallest particle of all, the syllable. It is the king and pin of versification, what rules and holds together the lines, the larger forms, of a poem... It is by their syllables that words juxtapose in beauty, by these ...


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