White Isle, in the Black Sea
Olson, Charles (American playwright, poet and essayist, December 27, 1910-January 10, 1970), “White Isle, in the Black Sea,”
a __-minute experimental play in English, set in _____,
© 1977 by Charles Olson;
• in Charles Olson’s The Fiery Hunt, and Other Plays (Bolinas, California, U.S.A.: Four Seasons Foundation, 1977), ISBN 0877040346, ISBN 0877040338, LCCN 76048311, 125 pp.;
• script/rights available from Book People, 2940 7th Avenue, Berkeley, California, U.S.A.
• Cited in Play Index 1973-1977: An Index to 3,848 Plays, edited by Estelle A. Fidell (New York: The H. W. Wilson Company, 1978), ISSN 0554-3037, LCCN 64-1054, p. 234.
Pausanias (m), _____; Achilles (m), _____; _____ (m), _____; Helen (f), _____.
“Experimental play based on tales of Achilles and Helen as told by Pausanias. Chorus.”—Fidell, 234.
• “Olson’s papers are housed in two major depositories, the Olson Archive of the University of Connecticut and the Humanities Research Center at the University of Texas, Austin. Other works by Olson are Causal Mythology (1969), The Fiery Hunt and Other Plays (1977), and The Post Office: A Memoir of His Father (1974). Olson’s reading list for poets is in A Bibliography on America for Ed Dorn (1964). Selected Writings, ed. Robert Creeley (1966), and Additional Prose, ed. George F. Butterick (1974), reprint short works. The Special View of History, ed. Ann Charters (1970), and Muthologos: The Collected Lectures and Interviews, ed. Butterick, contain his work on history. Charles Olson and Ezra Pound: An Encounter at St. Elizabeths (1975) reprints his notes on Pound. Biographies include Tom Clark, Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet’s Life (1991) and Charles Boer, Charles Olson in Connecticut (1975), on the last days. Studies include Ed Dorn, What I See in the Maximus Poems (1960), Sherman Paul, Olson’s Push (1978), Robert von Hallberg, Charles Olson: The Scholar’s Art (1978), Paul Christensen, Charles Olson: Call Him Ishmael (1979), and Don Byrd, Charles Olson’s Maximus (1980). Olson’s correspondence is in Letters for Origin, ed. Albert Glover (1969); Charles Olson and Robert Creeley: The Complete Correspondence, ed. Butterick (1980- ); and In Love, in Sorrow: The Complete Correspondence of Charles Olson and Edward Dahlberg, ed. Christensen (1990).”—Charles Olson’s Life and Career, http://www.english.uiuc.edu/maps/poets/m_r/olson/life.htm, accessed August 29, 2001.
• “Biography / Résumé 1993 Cannibals of the Heart (+ Director, Producer) Olsen Productions, Organ Factory, Clifton Hill 1995 SQUIBFEST, Melbourne Writers' Theatre (+ Producer) short play festival (12 pieces entered) 1998 Backstage and Mine (+ Director); Wyverns, Love That Travelling Cow, HATS Theatre Inc. 1999 Little Black Dress, Flowers, Kaleidoscope, HATS Theatre Inc. 2000 Floating (+ Director); Double Tap (+ Producer), This Mortal Coil, HATS Theatre Inc. 2001 Two Women & a Chair, Smoke and Mirrors, HATS Theatre Inc. Casa Diablo, Original Works Season, Jobsite Theatre, Tampa Bay, Florida, USA A Retiring Lady, Festival of One, Bakehouse Theatre, Adelaide Mine, Mirrors, Keeper, Greendoor Production, HATS Theatre Inc. 2002 Footsteps in the River, The Sorry Man, Joyrider, Laughter & Tears, HATS Theatre Inc. Daveena Clark’s Revenge, Mildura Theatre Company Dreams of Justine, Life & Other Catastrophes, Hartwell Players Inc. 2003 The Last Dance of the Plum Sisters (+ Producer) Estellic Theatre Company READINGS (full length plays) 1994 SeaLevel, Melbourne Writers’ Theatre, Director: David Myles 1996 Threads, Melbourne Writers’ Theatre, Director: Michael Wansbrough 2000 (co-writer) Hammerhead, La Mama Theatre, Director: Greg Carroll (co-writer) Hammerhead, Melbourne Writers’ Theatre, Director: Justin Harris-Parslow READINGS (one act plays) 2003 Room Service (+ Director), Greendoor Production, HATS Theatre Inc. AWARDS (one-act plays) 2000 Double Tap, Runner up Best Play, Ararat One Act Play Festival Double Tap, Best Play, Anglesea One Act Play Festival 2001 Two Women & a Chair, Nancy Cato Audience Choice Award and Runner Up, Noosa Arts Theatre One Act Play Competition Two Women & a Chair, Best Comedy, Ararat One Act Play Festival 2002 Footsteps in the River, Winner, Noosa Arts Theatre One Act Play Competition.”—Maverick Musicals: Author Information, http://www.mavmuse.com/author.asp, accessed March 12, 2006.
• Charles Olson, University of Connecticut BIRTH: Worcester, Massachusetts, 27 December 1910, to Karl Joseph and Mary Hines Olson. EDUCATION: B.A., Wesleyan University, 1932; M.A., Wesleyan University, 1933; Harvard University, 1936-1938. MARRIAGE: Common-law marriage to Constance Wilcock; children: Katherine. Common-law marriage to Elizabeth Kaiser; children: Charles Peter. AWARDS: Guggenheim Fellowships, 1939, 1948; Wenner-Gren Foundation grant, 1952; Longview Foundation award for The Maximus Poems, 1961; Oscar Blumenthal Prize (Poetry magazine), 1965. DEATH: New York, New York, 10 January 1970. Charles Olson has come to be recognized in the few years since his death as a major shaper of a postmodern American poetry, the chief successor to Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams. He was a leading voice of the so-called Black Mountain Poets (which included Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, Edward Dorn, and Joel Oppenheimer among others), named for the experimental college with which all were at one time or another associated. His place in literary history seems assured by such achievements as his epic series, The Maximus Poems (1953-1975), the theoretical manifesto "Projective Verse" (1950), essays such as "Human Universe" (1951), his deeply felt study of Herman Melville, myth and America, Call Me Ishmael (1947), his energetic letters, as well as his acknowledged influence on an entire generation of poets. Indeed, one critic -- Warren Tallman in his preface to The Poetics of the New American Poetry (1973) -- speaks of "Olson's generation" the way Hugh Kenner has referred to "the Pound Era." Olson's background reflects diverse interests and experience, and somewhat explains why he did not publish his first poem until his mid-thirties. Although born and raised in the central Massachusetts industrial city of Worcester, where his father was a mailman, he spent summers in Gloucester on the coast, which became the focus of his most important work, The Maximus Poems. He was a champion orator in high school, winning a tour of Europe as a prize. He chose Wesleyan over Harvard on the advice of his high-school debating coach, continuing there for an M.A., writing a thesis on Melville and tracking down Melville's personal library as part of his research. He eventually went to Harvard for further study in a newly begun American Studies program, completing all course work for the Ph.D.; but he left without the degree after receiving a Guggenheim Fellowship in 1939 for a book on Melville (the 400-page draft was abandoned but emerged after World War II in remarkably different form as Call Me Ishmael). During the war he was assistant chief of the Foreign Language Division of the Office of War Information, until resigning in protest against bureaucratic meddling and inefficiency. He served the Democratic Party's National Committee as adviser and strategist (for which service he was offered significant governmental posts), but he withdrew abruptly from partisan politics to become exclusively a writers (see his poem "The K"). It was the second time he turned his back on promising careers -- that of a traditional scholar-academic and that of national politics -- valuing more his independence. In 1948 he was convinced to take a temporary teaching position vacated by his friend Edward Dahlberg at Black Mountain College, returning there to teach regularly in 1951 and to serve as rector of the school until its closing in 1956. Thereafter he returned to Gloucester and preoccupation with the Maximus series, remaining by choice in relative isolation and poverty, until accepting a teaching post at the State University of New York at Buffalo, where he was a most effective teacher as he had been at Black Mountain. He taught again, briefly, at the University of Connecticut until overtaken by cancer. He died two weeks past his fifty-ninth birthday, having completed The Maximus Poems a month before. Writing autobiographically, he described himself not so much as a poet or writer but as "an archeologist of morning," and the phrase has stayed. His first book was not poems but a remarkable study of Melville and the writing of Moby-Dick, Call Me Ishmael, for which he has been much praised. Published in 1947, it has been republished three times by different publishers. It has been seen as a continuation of the line of writings on American literature beginning with D.H. Lawrence's Studies in Classic American Literature (1923) and including Williams's In the American Grain (1925) and Dahlberg's Do These Bones Live (1941). Among the qualities it shares with Olson's poems, however, is the brisk, confident, efficient style, seen in its famous opening paragraph: "I take SPACE to be the central fact to man born in America, from Folsom cave to now. I spell it large because it comes large here. Large, and without mercy." There are also striking images, such as "a sun like a tomahawk... a river north and south in the middle of the land running out the blood," and other forms of compression, including the incorporation of live facts whole into the narrative, the condensing of information (for a book of less than one hundred printed pages, Olson investigated every book in the Library of Congress on the American whaling industry), the technique of montage or juxtaposition. And, thematically, there is the preoccupation with America ("we are the last 'first' people"), the delving into myth, and not least, the final chapter on the new, "prospective," post-Ahabian hero, directly anticipating Maximus. Among his earliest poems, "The K" and "La Preface" most notably hint at the scope and concerns to come, while others of such balanced delicacy as "Pacific Lament" and "Lower Field -- Enniscorthy" already strain against tidiness and, although quite formal, take advantage of rhythm and rhyme to freely move against the "closed" universe Olson will reject in "Projective Verse." In "Pacific Lament," an elegy for an acquaintance drowned in wartime submarine service, within the strictness of narrow lines the syntax follows the spirals of the boy's descent, mimetic of the fall of a body lost at sea. (It was, in fact, later danced by one of the students at Black Mountain.) The effect is enhanced by careful curtailment of line, omission of punctuation, and occasional rhyme. Above all, the sense is of free invention within control. "Lower Field -- Enniscorthy," part of a larger "Enniscorthy Suite" written while Olson was on vacation at a friend's estate in Virginia, is similarly composed in free lines, but with advantageous placement of worlds for their ultimate effect: A convocation of crows overheard/mucks/in their own mud and squawk/makes of the sky/a sty Somewhat stiffly formal and not yet the "open field" of "Projective Verse," it nevertheless has interesting allowances, tolerances. The landscape is sharp-edged and nonromantic. Prevalent monosyllabic words contrast with occasional polysyllables, and attention is paid to sounds (in the subsequent line, "A bee is deceived"). It is a picture only, having no narrator, sharing Williams's nominalism and trust in the phenomenal world. It is a careful presentation of a natural world free from human presence and interference, a "peaceable kingdom" although with lurking dangers or unpleasantness (the sheep are like soldiers, an "ambush" is possible, the crows "muck" and make of the sky a "sty," a bee mistakes a rotten stump for honeycomb, the path is "undisciplined"). There is a trust in language to represent reality, even in the deliberate flatness of the end -- Report: over all/ the sun/ -- the staring camera's eye, the photorealism, tough-minded and unsentimental, the documentary impulse characteristic of the later poems. "The K," appearing in Y & X (1948), a book of coordinates, is among Olson's very first poems, written in early 1945 when he was nearly thirty-five. It contains the same mixture of personal and cultural reference that will characterize almost all his poems. An early version, written while the (not yet declared) poet was on a working vacation with the Democratic National Committee at its winter headquarters in Key West, is entitled "Telegram" with significance. It was written in response to offers to keep Olson engaged in national politics through a position in the coming administration. The poem begins with his rejection of the offers by quoting another statesman in the words of another poet (Brutus in Shakespeare's Julius Caesar) in order to reclaim his personal freedom:Take, then, my answer:/there is a tide in a man/moves him to his moon and,/though it drop him back/he works through ebb to mount/the run again and swell/to be tumescent I.And although this "tumescent I" is not yet a "Maximus," the poet suggests that finally the artist's concerns are more elemental than a Caesar's:Our attention is simpler/The salts and minerals of the earth return/The night has a love for throwing its shadows around a man/a bridge, a horse, the gun, a graveSuch language is as symbolic as Olson's was ever to get. [by George Butterick]—Biography, http://charlesolson.uconn.edu/Personal_and_Professional_Life/biography.htm, accessed May 31, 2006.
acting, audition, chair, competitiveness, directing, experimentalism, instruction, retaliation, temperament, theatre, vulgarity.