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This review is taken from PN Review 29, Volume 9 Number 3, January - February 1983.

ENERGY DISCHARGE Charles Olson and Robert Creeley, The Complete Correspondence Volume 3, ed. George F. Butterick (Black Sparrow Press) $20.00, $7.50-pb

Volume 3 of this correspondence is, as in previous volumes, mostly Creeley, and his letters, which, as before, cover a short period-21 September to 7 November 1950-comprise almost a daily journal of his thoughts and experiences. But though Olson's letters are largely absent, his large presence remains; Creeley is talking to him, summoning him up, all the time, and it was clearly very important to this isolated, obscure writer to have a like-minded contact. The letters served Creeley as a vital energy discharge. They also, for both men, served the function of a writers' workshop, in which they could discuss and criticize each other's work, and hammer out an aesthetic.

The main aesthetic concern in these letters is with a theory and practice of prose. Creeley wants a prose that will share the qualities he reveres in Olson's poetry, which, at its best, produces 'nothing but amaze'. That prose should have immediacy and 'instantaneity'; it should catch the moment-by-moment 'conjectural reality' (an important term of Creeley's) of our lives-our necessarily incomplete, but precise, apprehensions of ourselves and our world in each instant of living; it should give free play to the 'force' and flux of objects and consciousness. Creeley tries to apply these principles to the short stories, such as 'Mr Blue', that he is working on (later collected in The Gold Diggers) and to the letters themselves. These aim to give Olson Creeley's thoughts with the immediacy of a teletext: they are vivid, fragmented, oblique, with ...


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