A Labor of Love – Charles Olson

charles_olsonModernist Charles Olson (1910-1970) viewed poetry as a means of projecting energy. As a poet, essayist, and teacher, he had a  far-reaching influence. Rejecting the confines of academic poetry, Olson believed that sound was the way to reach the reader:

the HEAD, by way of the EAR, to the SYLLABLE
the HEART, by way of the BREATH, to the LINE

Here’s a sample of his work, which I will allow to “speak” for itself:

THE GRANDFATHER-FATHER POEM
rolled in the grass
like an overrun horse
or a poor dog
to cool himself
from his employment
in the South Works of U S Steel
as an Irish shoveler

to make their fires hot
to make ingots above
by puddlers of
melted metal

and my grandfather
down below
at the bottom of the
rung

stoking
their furnaces
with black
soft
coal soft coal
makes fire
heat higher
sooner,
beloved
Jack Hines (whose picture
in a devil’s
cap—black jack
Hines […]

For the complete poem, click here.

What does your heart hear? How does it hear it?

—Rachael Benavidez, Associate Editor

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