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After Completion: The Later Letters of Charles Olson and Frances Boldereffby Sharon (edt) Thesen
Synopses & Reviews
Modern American poet Charles Olson had many correspondents over the years, but Frances Boldereff, a book designer and typographer, James Joyce scholar, and single working mother, embodied a dynamic complexity of interlocutor, muse, Sybil, lover, critic, and amanuensis.
After Completion: The Later Letters of Charles Olson and Frances Boldereff continues from the point at which earlier letters, collected in A Modern Correspondence (Wesleyan University Press, 1999), left off. Spanning three years and more than three hundred letters, that edition concludes with a crisis on Labor Day weekend 1950 that amounted to a completion” of one of the major phases of their relationship.
After Completion picks up the correspondence post-crisis, and consists of nearly 150 letters written between 1950 and 1969. In this period of the correspondence, we witness the intensity of the letters flare intermittently, sometimes explosively, as Olson and Boldereff try to maintain some continuity in their separateness. In these later letters, we also experience their magnificent mutual embracing of Arthur Rimbaud.
The correspondence taken as a whole presents a passionate relationship realized mostly in letters—letters that were to become essential to Olsons working out of his poetics. Boldereffs interventions, which provoked Olson to articulate a projectivist poetics, claims for Frances Boldereff an incalculable effect on twentieth-century poetry.
Charles Olson's working mind and life are revealed through his correspondence with Frances Boldereff, his longtime intellectual and emotional confidante.
After Completion: The Later Letters between modern American poet Charles Olson and Frances Boldereff (a typographer and James Joyce scholar) opens in September 1950, following a crisis that amounted to a "completion" of the major phase of their relationship. The 140 letters in this volume present a passionate relationship realized mostly in correspondence—one that was ultimately vital to Olson's working out of his projectivist poetics. Unique among Olson's correspondents, Boldereff embodied the interlocutor, muse, Sybil, lover, and critic, and through her interaction with him had an incalculable effect on twentieth-century poetry.
Sharon Thesen is a professor in the faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at the University of British Columbia.
Ralph Maud, a leading Olson scholar, is professor emeritus of English at Simon Fraser University.
About the Author
Born in 1910, Charles Olsons first two books, Call Me Ishmael (1947), a study of Melvilles Moby Dick, and The Mayan Letters (1953), written to Robert Creeley from Mexico, cover a range of subjects—mythology, anthropology, language, and cultural history—and use the fervent informal style that were to distinguish all his discursive prose. Olsons manifesto, Projective Verse, published in 1950, was quoted generously in William Carlos Williamss Autobiography (1951). Olson was rector of Black Mountain College, North Carolina, 1951-1956, and taught at the State University of New York, Buffalo, 1963-1965. Settling in Gloucester, Massachusetts, he devoted most of his time and energy until his death in 1970 to The Maximus Poems, his most substantial work.
Frances Motz Boldereff was a typographic designer by trade; by vocation, an independent scholar and exegete. After graduating in 1926 from the University of Michigan at Ann Arbor with an honors degree in philosophy and English, Boldereff worked the New York Public Library, taking advantage of its extensive collection of rare Irish books to study Irish literature and history. Boldereff's passion for James Joyce and her research into his sources began there. Boldereff also loved all things Russian, and studied Russian language. She later worked in the production department of the New Yorker before founding the journal Parnassus and later managing publications at Pennsylvania State College it was here that Boldereff first met Charles Olson in 1947.
Sharon Thesen is a poet, editor, and writer who was based in Vancouver, British Columbia, before joining the Faculty of Creative and Critical Studies at UBC Okanagan, in 2005. She is the author of eight books of poetry, the most recent The Good Bacteria (Anansi). Her books include a selected poems, News and Smoke (Talonbooks), Aurora (Talonbooks) and several titles from the 1980s and 1990s from Coach House Press. She has been involved in the Canadian and Vancouver poetry scene for many years. Thesens research interests are modern, postmodern, and contemporary poetry and poetics, lyric essay and philosophical autobiography, the relationship between poetic imagination and the real,” and the Canadian long poem. She is also interested in the aesthetics of theological and mystical writings by women, as well as the relationship between psychology and ecology, and eco-poetics.
Ralph Maud is Emeritus Professor of English and Associate of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University. He founded the Charles Olson Literary Society. He is the author of Charles Olson Reading (1996) and the editor of The Selected Letters of Charles Olson (2000) and Olson's Muthologos: Lectures and Interviews (2010). He has edited much of Dylan Thomass work, including The Notebook Poems 19301934 and The Broadcasts, and is co-editor, with Walford Davies, of Dylan Thomas: The Collected Poems, 19341953 and Under Milk Wood.
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