Friday, August 27, 2010

Diane di Prima, Poet Laureate of San Francisco, to be Featured Performer at Gloucester's Charles Olson Centennial, October 3-10

Diane di Prima

Diane di Prima, Poet Laureate of San Francisco, will be the featured reader at Olson 100, Gloucester’s celebration of the hundredth anniversary of the birth of Charles Olson, the local poet whose reputation was international. Sponsored by the Charles Olson Society, the Cape Ann Museum and local booksellers, businesses and non-profit organizations, and with a grant from the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation, the main events for the week-long celebration will take place on October 8-10 in downtown Gloucester.

Di Prima, who rose to prominence as a member of the Beat Generation of American writers, and who has published over forty books of poetry and prose, will be joined on Saturday night, October 9, by novelist, short story writer and poet Michael Rumaker. Both di Prima and Rumaker were close personal friends of Olson’s during the 1950s and 60s. Rumaker, who was Olson’s student at Black Mountain College, in Asheville, North Carolina, is also the author of Black Mountain Days, a memoir of the college and his friendship with Olson, who was both a teacher and rector at the legendary experimental school, which launched the careers of painter Robert Rauschenberg and dancer Merce Cunningham. Di Prima will be introduced at her featured reading by newly appointed Gloucester Poet Laureate Ruthanne "Rufus" Collinson.

The diPrima and Rumaker readings, at 7 p.m. on Saturday at the Universalist Unitarian Church, 10 Church Street, Gloucester, will be preceded by two panel discussions at the Cape Ann Museum, 27 Pleasant Street. The first, at 10:30 a.m., “Remembering Olson,” moderated by Gloucester writer and friend of Olson’s, Peter Anastas, will bring together speakers who actually knew Olson to share their experiences of the poet as a writer, mentor, teacher and friend. DiPrima and Rumaker are expected to join the panel along with poet and musician Ed Sanders and others. This panel will be followed by “Olson’s Project,” in which the poet’s legacy and contemporary relevance will be discussed. Beginning at 1 p.m., the panel will be moderated by poet, writer and CUNY professor Ammiel Alcalay, at whose Rocky Neck home Olson was often a visitor. Participants will include choreographer and writer Kate Tarlow Morgan, poets Charles Stein and Kristin Prevallet, writer, publisher and Los Angeles urban activist Fred Dewey, and others to be announced. The panels will be followed by the showing of Henry Ferrini’s award winning documentary film about Olson in Gloucester, “Polis is This” at 3 p.m. at the Cape Ann Community Cinema, 21 Main Street.

On Friday evening, there will be a marathon poetry reading at the UUC church, beginning at 7 p.m. Participants, including Gerrit Lansing and Ed Sanders, will read from their own poetry and from Olson’s. Events for Sunday, October 10 will begin at 11 a.m. with a “Maximus Walk,” led by members of the Charles Olson Society. Those who join the walk will visit local landmarks, which Olson has written about in “The Maximus Poems,” his epic about the city’s history. Relevant poems will be read at the various stops along the walk, which will lead from Stage Fort Park to downtown Gloucester.

The “Maximus Walk” will be followed by a presentation by Sarah Slifer and Mark Wagner of Olson’s dance play, “Apollonius of Tyana” at the Blackburn Performance Center. After the performance composer and musician Willie Alexander will present a concert of Olson’s poems, which he has set to music. A reception and party, at a location to be announced, will end the festivities.

Other scheduled events include a week of poetry and prose readings by local writers leading up to the main events, the launching of “Letters Home,” David Rich’s edition of Olson’s letters to Gloucester residents, published by the Cape Ann Museum, on Saturday, October 3 at 4 p.m., followed by a reading and book signing by Ammiel Alcalay of his new novel “Islanders,” at the Bookstore in Gloucester’s West End. Concurrently, the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library will sponsor “Olson in Print,” an exhibit of Olson books and memorabilia, curated by Gregory Gibson of Ten Pound Island Book Company. There will be a contemporary art installation by painter Susan Erony and photographer Paul Cary Goldberg, sponsored by the Cape Ann Museum at the White Ellery House, filmmaker and writer Henry Ferrini will give a reading from his children’s book about Olson, “Little Charlie Goes to Gloucester,” at 10 a.m. on Saturday morning, October 9, and Gloucester writers James Cook and Peter Anastas will lead a weekly Charles Olson Study Group at the Bookstore, in Gloucester’s West End, beginning on Thursday, September 9 at 7 p.m., which is free and open to all to sign up for and attend (see posting below).

For more information about the Charles Olson Centennial Celebration please visit

Contact persons: Peter Anastas, 978-283-4582

James Cook, 978-281-5570

Henry Ferrini, 978-281-2355