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Charles Olson at the Century

UB symposium marks the poet’s 100th birthday

The poet and theorist Charles Olson casts a long shadow across Buffalo’s literary and academic community. Though his career at the University at Buffalo was brief—he taught there from 1963 to 1965—his influence continued to be communicated through visits and through poet Robert Creeley, with whom Olson had worked at Black Mountain College, and with whom Olson maintained a fascinating correspondence.

Olson’s life and work is being celebrated by academics and artists across the country this year. UB’s contribution to the festivities occurs this weekend, beginning with a reading on October 14 at 8pm by British poet Tom Raworthy at the Western New York Book Arts Center (468 Washington Street, at Mohawk). On October, 15, there will be a 10:30am panel discussion of Olson’s work at the UB Poetry Collection (420 Chapin Hall, UB North Campus), followed at 1pm by a roundtable discussion with Raworthy, UB Professor Bruce Jackson, and UB Professor and poet Steve McCaffery.

A second panel discussion takes place at 2:30pm, featuring Olson scholar Carla Billitieri of the University of Maine, Michael Bough of the University of Toronto, poet and sound artist Don Byrd from the University of Albany, and critic and editor Kenneth Warren.

That evening, the symposium returns to the Western New York Book Arts Center for an 8pm screening of Polis Is This: Charles Olson and the Persistence of Place, a film by Henry Ferrini. The symposium concludes with a many-handed, marathon reading of Olson’s “The Maximus Poems,” a series of 300 poems Olson wrote over 20 years. The reading takes place at the Karpeles Manuscript Museum (453 Porter Avenue) on October 16, 11am-4pm. UB’s Poetry Collection will display a collection of Olson’s correspondence and other materials through January 31, 2011.

All events and exhibits are free and open to the public.

geoff kelly

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