Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Charles Olson is Such a Hippie


So I did my homework. First I tried reading part of Charles Olson's essay "On Projective Verse." It kind of makes sense. I kind of like it. You can read it here.

Continuing my quest to understand the dash-ey poems I described last week, I consulted two very credible sources. Wikipedia said, "In Projective Verse, Olson called for a poetic meter based on the breath of the poet and an open construction based on sound and the linking of perceptions rather than syntax and logic." That is all Wikipedia said. Which, they were basically saying that Charles Olson was a hippie. The breath of the poet? Ugh. Although I do like the idea of "linking perceptions."

Delving deeper, I looked to answers.com:

"In his influential 1950 essay "Projective Verse" Olson defined poetry in terms of the dynamic world his contemporaries were discovering: "A poem is energy transferred from where the poet got it … by way of the poem itself … to the reader." The poet's own energy as he writes is among that which is embodied in the poem. The syllable, Olson argued, reveals the poet's act of exploring the possibilities of sound in order to create an oral beauty. The line reveals the poet's breathing, where it begins and ends as he works. Conventional syntax, meter, and rhyme must be abandoned, Olson argued, if their structural requirements slow the swift currents of the poet's thought. The predictable left-hand margin falsifies the spontaneous nature of experience."

So Charles Olson is a hippie language poet. Projective verse is the language of hippie language poet/cult leaders. I think projective verse is a cult.

I like all of those ideas, and I like energy and spontenaity and swiftness, and probably I liked the very first projective poem ever written by Charles O. But now the dash-ey poems are everywhere. And now the dash-ey poems and the absent left margin are obvious; we know what they're up to; they are not performing any trickeries like we like. So why are people still writing the dash-eys? I guess it's like everything else that people are still writing, like sonnets and whatever else. I hate when something cool groundbreaking gets adopted by bazillions of people. It makes me feel so American. Like Charles Olson's projective verse will someday be part of Pepsi's ad campaign or something.

I am stealing the phrase "oral beauty," though, which sounds so wonderful and gross to me and should have nothing to do with poems.

10 comments:

Meghan said...

Thank you Megan. Is this something you're teaching your lit. students? I want to take your class. All I did at work today was wander around with a sympathy card, badgering everyone for money. I made $125, which hopefully will not be eaten by the mouse that lives in my desk.

Megan said...

hell NO i'm not teaching them that. they only want to read raymond carver now. and now they love denis johnson, which made me proud. also, i will donate to that.

Meghan said...

According to my fiction calculator, Denis Jonson + the less annoying Carver = Charles D'Ambrosio. Why isn't he in that damn anthology? I can't believe you got them to read anything. After my fundraising efforts are over, I'll start a collection for you.

Kathy said...

megan you are the best student ever. if i were your teacher i would pee myself.

but you should know that i don't really know if the hyphen-y/spacey poems actually have anything to do with projective verse. i just always think of "composition by field" because they look like a big field to me with words planted here and there. also, i like to make things up. science is my favorite thing to make up, but poetics is pretty fun too.

Sarah said...

You guys! Look at this adorable puppy: http://cuteoverload.com/.

Also, I would like to call attention to her use of spelling to express cuteness. Weird.

On topic: I like you guys. I like that I learned something from our blog today. I like that it was about poetry.

Megan said...

you learned, sarah? that is cool that you learned. not that you don't normally learn. since you learned, you should now research field whatever that kathy's talking about. i think it's another hippie movement. fields, mushroom-plantings, organics...

TheNeez said...

Olson seriously sounds like a guy who wrote his poems in a weird form only because it made sense to him and he, like me, felt it necessary to go back and try to explain what happened in his brain that made him write the poems the way he did. Now poor Megan is forced to write about it and be graded upon by people who probably don't fully understand it.
I mean, shouldn't e.e. get some love regarding projective verse as well?

Or should I just leave this conversation and go eat a popsicle?

Kathy said...

"composition by field" is part of olson's projective verse manifesto. i think i have successfully confused the entire blogosphere. let's all go eat popsicles.

Meghan said...

theneez: Megan's not really in school so no one grades her. She grades other people. Today, I give everyone in Chicago an A-. It would be an A, but someone told me it was going to rain tomorrow.

flabby-abby1973 said...

Why are you such stupid racist bastards?????? Read a book you stupid, gay people!