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This review is taken from PN Review 19, Volume 7 Number 5, May - June 1981.

THE OLSON-CREELEY LETTERS Charles Olson and Robert Creeley, The Complete Correspondence Vols 1 & 2, edited by George F. Butterick (Black Sparrow Press, Santa Barbara) n.p.

Charles Olson and Robert Creeley began corresponding with each other in April 1950, and went on doing so for twenty years until Olson's death. The letters begin at perhaps the most creative point in Olson's life, as he is rethinking 'Projective Verse' and before beginning the Maximus poems, and since some of Olson's letters to Creeley form the 'Mayan Letters' and Olson himself felt only four months after the correspondence had begun that it was perhaps the most important of his whole life, it is abundantly clear that the encounter with Creeley is of major importance in the formation of Olson's poetry. It is equally clear that one will judge this important to the degree that one values Olson as a poet. If you see Olson as a major poet and Creeley as an important one, then this correspondence becomes indispensable, and little more needs to be said. Professor Butterick has edited with care, and his printers have not let him down. His notes are unfussy and informative, providing slightly less information than I personally needed, but that is a good failing in an editor. The photographs are few, but very evocative. Handshakes all round.

However, if one does not find Olson a major poet but a major bore, and sees Creeley's poems as attractive but very minor; if one objects powerfully (as, in my experience, many people in this country do) to the idea of literature and culture which these two represent, does this mean that ...


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