Saturday, July 31, 2010

Charles Olson Study Group Begins Thursday, September 9 at the Bookstore in Gloucester's West End

Poetry lovers and those who would like to learn more about the life and work of the internationally acclaimed Gloucester poet Charles Olson are invited to join a free study group at the Bookstore in the West End, beginning on Thursday, September 9.

Sponsored by the Charles Olson Society and the Bookstore of Gloucester, the study group is open to everyone without charge. It will meet weekly through October 7 at 7 p.m. each evening.

Leading the study group will be poet, editor and teacher James Cook and writer and former Gloucester Times columnist, Peter Anastas. Anastas, a personal friend of Olson’s, edited the poet’s letters to the editor of the Gloucester Times, published as “Maximus to Gloucester.”

The purpose of the group, according to Cook, is to make Olson’s poetry and prose accessible to participants.

“We’ll be reading the major poems together,” Cook said, “trying to place them in the context of Olson’s multi-faceted career as a Harvard-trained scholar and historian, a wartime bureaucrat and Democratic Party politician in Washington, DC, and a teacher and later rector of the famed experimental Black Mountain College.”

“Our special focus,” Anastas adds, “will be on Olson’s life and work in Gloucester, particularly ‘The Maximus Poems,’ Olson’s epic poem about the city through history.”

The only required text for the study group will be Ralph Maud’s comprehensive “A Charles Olson Reader,” which is available for immediate purchase at the Book Store (see above cover photo of Maud's book).

Those interested in joining the group are asked to stop in at the Book Store and sign up or to call at 978-281-1548 to reserve a place.

The Olson study group is part of a series of events leading up to Olson 100, Gloucester’s celebration of the 100th anniversary of the poet’s birth, which will take place over the weekend of October 9-10.

The celebration will include readings by local and visiting writers, panel discussions about Olson’s legacy, a Sunday morning walk to Gloucester sites mentioned in Olson’s poetry and the performance by Sarah Slifer and Mark Wagner of a dance play by Olson, followed by a concert featuring local musician and composer Willie Alexander, who has set some of Olson’s poetry to music. For more information on the centenary or the study group, please go to