Goodreads helps you keep track of books you want to read.
Start by marking “Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet's Life” as Want to Read:
Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet's Life
Enlarge cover
Rate this book
Clear rating

Charles Olson: The Allegory of a Poet's Life

3.67 of 5 stars 3.67  ·  rating details  ·  39 ratings  ·  3 reviews
An incandescent biography of the inventor of "projective" verse, this comprehensive portrait distinguishes the convivial, bluff public figure from the tormented inner man. A lapsed Catholic, Olson (1910-1970) turned to Sumerian myths, Mayan legends and Islamic mysticism for cosmic insights that would inform poems of cyclic sweep. Torn by contradictory feelings toward his p ...more
Paperback, 352 pages
Published May 4th 2000 by North Atlantic Books (first published April 1st 1991)
more details... edit details

Friend Reviews

To see what your friends thought of this book, please sign up.

Reader Q&A

To ask other readers questions about Charles Olson, please sign up.

Be the first to ask a question about Charles Olson

This book is not yet featured on Listopia. Add this book to your favorite list »

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 59)
filter  |  sort: default (?)  |  rating details
Olson was a giant (six-eight or so) bundle of contradictions. Intellectually and poetically courageous, his pursuits into the ancient mysteries and towards a more sanctified, whole and wondrous mode of life through the living word are easy for me to identify with. But he was such a moral failure, at times close to a psychotic-myopic disregard of others' feelings and pursuits. Really also a helpless child in regard to matters of basic humanness and also practical living - eg, he simply never lear ...more
Jun 05, 2008 barry marked it as to-read
I've tried to get lost in the Maximus Poems a great number of times. Olson's irascibility, his reputation, Gloucester Massachusetts, the peculiar shorthanded grammar, the evocative mythology, the blue-collar immediacy-- it all adds up, I think, to the ultimate work of literature for me. But, I just get flummoxed. Fascinated, exhiliarated, but flummoxed all the same.

So, I'm about to embark on reading about Olson rather than reading his work itself. I'm hoping to be hooked and gain some insight I
Superb, detailed, slightly unsettling. This biography prompted me to write the following poem included in my book Moonshot;

olson was

olson was
tired he
had talked
at max. speed
at max. vol.
all night
on whiskey
& speed
w/ camel
in mouth
pencil in hand
to the faded
Gloucester map
the lined paper
the dark window

that automatic
rental car
you drive
down the black mountain
of your all-night
rambling highs at
60mph to slow
to a peyote crawl
daytime low you sure
that the destination’s
worth the ride?
asked creel
Rachel Brien
Rachel Brien marked it as to-read
Oct 24, 2014
Denise is currently reading it
Mar 09, 2014
J.P. added it
Jan 27, 2014
Bob marked it as to-read
Nov 04, 2013
Jonny added it
Oct 14, 2013
Todd marked it as to-read
Aug 03, 2013
caitlin thompson
caitlin thompson marked it as to-read
Jul 04, 2013
Summers Baker
Summers Baker marked it as to-read
Dec 23, 2012
Maurice is currently reading it
Dec 08, 2012
Sam marked it as to-read
Dec 14, 2011
Jill added it
Aug 08, 2011
« previous 1 next »
There are no discussion topics on this book yet. Be the first to start one »
Clark is an American poet, editor and biographer. Clark was educated at the University of Michigan and served as poetry editor of "The Paris Review" from 1963 to 1973 and published numerous volumes of poetry with Black Sparrow Press. His literary essays and reviews have appeared in "The New York Times," "Times Literary Supplement," and many other journals.
More about Tom Clark...
Jack Kerouac: A Biography Late Returns: A Memoir of Ted Berrigan Light and Shade: New and Selected Poems Junkets on a Sad Planet: Scenes from the Life of John Keats The Great Naropa Poetry Wars

Share This Book