1

28 Mayfield Ave
Toronto 3, Ont, Canada,
July 12, 1952.

 

Dear Charles Olson:

     Bob Creeley has suggested that I get in touch with you; I think you’ve seen CONTACT and would probably agree that it had a long way to go before it could call itself what it proclaims: “an international magazine of poetry. “

     You can help us try to attain that by sending us some of your work, by any critical comments, short articles, blasts on poetry that you feel like getting off your chest.  CONTACT readers have already had a taste of your work in I, Maximus,1 and by their reactions want and need more of it.  Although our circulation is small, we are growing every day, and our readers include nearly all the good poets writing in Canada (and we have some) and a number of poets and critics in the States and abroad.  Through our CONTACT PRESS poetry series, one number of which has appeared and two more nearing publication, we are bringing to public at tention poets who might not otherwise get publication. 2  Right now we are confined to Canadian poets, but in a year or so hope to broaden our field, possibly with a CONTACT ANTHOLOGY, open to poets in all countries. 3

     A copy of CONTACT FOUR, out July 15th, will reach you shortly. CONTACT does not intend to fold up easily. We can exist on a budget of $100 a year. And we mean to be a force for better poetry. But to be that force we need more and better contributions. That is why I am writing you today.

     We should appreciate hearing from you, and would welcome any suggestions, names of possible contributors to contact, etc. Creeley has given me some good leads to follow up in Europe, so we hope for some interesting translations. Cid Corman and Vine Ferrini4 are helping in other ways.  It’s all very heartening when you can get international co-operation like that.

     If you get a chance to go to N.Y.C. look Louis Dudek at 258 West 22 st, Apt 2G.  He’s an advisory editor of CONTACT and one of our best boosters, besides being a damn fine poet. I know he’d be happy to meet you.  5

Pardon the long-windedness, but there were a few things to be said .  .  .   .  .  .

Salud,

Raymond Souster

 


2

28 Mayfield Ave
Toronto 3, Ont, Canada,
August 2, 1952.

Dear Olson:

     Thanks for your letter and two poems6.  .  .  .  will let you know how the poems made out later .  .  .  as I told Creeley we have trouble with your stuff because you’re both not writing run-of-the-mill material, but we’re doing our best with the equipment we have.

     Have read the chapter on Projective Verse in William’s autobio, and it’s made me curious to read the whole thing. Any idea where I could get a copy of the mag it appeared in, which I think has since folded up?7 I’ve never been much of a theory man, but yours I want to follow through with, as I think you have some meat in it for a lot of people.

     CONTACT is a hodge podge, but will improve as we can get our hands on better work. . . .  or so we hope. This damn country right now is deader than ever as far as creative work goes, and yours doesn’t look too healthy either, England a dead loss pretty well: but maybe we can start a few balls rolling.

     Any good new people you could give us as line on would be much appreciated.

     Saw two of your things in Ferrini’s FOUR WINDS, nice stuff, along with Cid’s poem the solid things for me in the issue. Cid’s poem was the best I’ve seen of his. 8

     Like to see any prose you care to send, the only stipulation that it deal with or have relation to poetry. And it shouldn’t go too long, as you know how little space we have per issue.

     If things go well with our PRESS, may possibly have CONTACT ANTHOLOGY next year, with international contribs. Though right now, to sell at all, we’ve got to limit ourselves to Canadian poets.

     I suppose you’re doing some kind of teaching chore at Black Mountain. . . .  hope it leaves you lots of time for creative work.  I work in a bank myself, do most work on weekends, which isn’t too bad, now that we have a five-day week.

Best of luck, and send along whatever you wish. Salud,

Ray Souster

 


3

Dear Charles Olson:

     We’ve reached a decision on the poems — like THE LEADER much more than IDLE IDLE, and want it for #5 out November.  Also would like to use the short things “These Days” if its o. k.  with you. 9

     Glad to see more poetry any time, and any prose connected with poetry.

Sincerely,

Raymond Souster

 


4

CONTACT PRESS
28 Mayfield Ave. ,
Toronto 3, Canada

June 21, 1953

Dear Charles Olson:

     Cid Corman has been up in this neck of the woods the past couple of weeks, and one of the things he brought along with him was the fine broadsheet from Black Mountain of yours, THIS. 10  It was read by him one night before a small group of poets here and made quite an impression I would judge.

     Anyway, it struck me as especially fine, and I asked Cid if he thought I might be able to reprint it in the coming September issue of CONTACT. He said he thought you would give me the go sign on it, so I’m writing now to get your official permission. I’d also like to reprint MERCE OF EGYPT from IN COLD HELL along with itch.11 You will of course get full credits for both poems as well as the presses.

     I thought it would be very appropriate having these poems in the coming issue on account of the interest in your work raised by Cid’s visit. Also, leaflets from both the Divers Press and JARGON 12 will go out with that issue, and having what I consider two fine samples of your work right in the issue should do your cause some good.

     There is one difficulty in mimeographing THIS, owing to the two different types used in the poem which I can only reproduce on the typewriter by using capitals for the larger of the two types where these parts of the poem occur, and ordinary letters for the rest. I’d like any comments or suggestions you might have on this.

     I know that Black Mountain is far, far from Canada, but if you and your wife ever get the chance to come up this way, the warmest of welcomes await you. Poetry in Canada has been in a state of paralysis for some time now, and your work, together with that of Pound and your other contemporary, Bob Creeley, seem to point a way onward.

Best of luck in your present and future work.

Sincerely,

Raymond Souster

 


5

CONTACT PRESS
28 Mayfield Ave. ,
Toronto 3, Canada

August 30, 1954

Dear O:

Good to have a word or two from you. 13  

     You and Bob are certainly to be congratulated for a fine first image of the REVIEW. 14  Ten copies were sent along here to me — I can’t sell ’em, but I have mailed them to the best people I know, and I’m sure you’ll get a few subs out of the lot, which is something, I suppose. Incidentally, I could use 6 copies of the MAYAN LETTERS 15 here, no copies having arrived yet and people have ordered them.   So do what you can.

     I was very sorry to let CONTACT go, but too many things crowded together up here, and something had to give-so it was the magpie 16 Anyway, I figured 10 issues wasn’t too bad an effort.  I think it goosed a few people up here when things were at a low ebb and we were all feeling sorry for ourselves. And it did forment a little international spirit, which has had some nice results to date. And will go on, I hope.

     You asked about how I make a living-for better or for worse it’s the king business, has been since I was 18 except for a four year hitch in the R.C.A.F. And not as deadly as you might think — if nothing else one meets a lot of people — and people are my top interest.

     I’m very much interested in your work as you know — but most of my acquaintances are merely puzzled (probably because they haven’t read you well enough or extensively): and the review Dudek gave you in CIV/n17 made me regret the day I sent along my copy [in margin: ie. of MAX!] for them to read over. Lou is certainly welcome to his own opinion, but it certainly [is] disappointing to me when he fails to see the lines along which you’re working, the new breadth that seems to emerge from your best things. I don’t pretend to follow your meaning all the time, but there’s always enough else to keep me along with you. I think in the not-too-distant future you should reformulate your theories of poetry as you did a few years ago in POETRY NEW YORK, and this time try to find some publication which will reach more people.  The REVIEW might be the ideal spot, or ORIGIN.

     What we up here need to get in our poetry more than anything else right now is the clean American use of the language as distinct from the English, the same old chestnut that Williams has tried to hammer into us for so long. That is why I feel Thomas is particularly a dead end, why Canadians have to learn from you below us rather than from England.  Which unfortunately isn’t yet taking place. To our certain loss.

Hope to have a large group of work to show you before long. 18  Right now, I send one on the reverse, not much I’m afraid, but I suppose typical stuff right now, not really making it.

Let’s hear from you again.  Salud,

Ray Souster

[on reverse]

NICE WORK IF YOU CAN GET IT AND IT GETS YOU IF YOU TRY

After a year I was surprised to see
she hadn’t changed much — oh maybe
the large breasts have sagged a little more
the lines deepened around the face and the slightest
suggestion of a twitch at the side of the mouth —

but otherwise the same girl who does the belly-roll number
under the tent’s dull spotlight twelve times a day six days a week

with time off for drink for dope for hustling
and other sundry misbehaviour

                                                (shake it Red!)


6

28 Mayfield Ave
Toronto 3, Canada
December 30, 1956.

Dear Charles:

     Learn through a roundabout way from Gaelic 19 that the College has folded and that you’re staying on to wind things up. 20  So if it’s at all possible send me the following, for which I’ll pay for on receipt:

Blackburn — The Dissolving Fabrics 21
                      Mayan Letters

     Am starting a small thing to be called COMBUSTION next month, which will aim to publicize the little press books, to kick a few people in the pants, and to show off whatever off — beat, experimental material comes to light Hope you have something for us. 

     I suppose this means the end of the Review. 22  I’ve just been reading through the issues tonight and now see what a hell of a fine thing it’s been — perhaps more than I realized before.  Well, we learn slowly.  the important thing is to learn, I suppose.

     Best of the New Year in every useful sense.

Salud,

Ray Souster

P. S.  If you’re writing Bob 23 you might mention COMBUSTION.


7

CONTACT PRESS
28 MaylieldAve. ,
Toronto 3, Canada
January 27, 1957.

Dear Charles:

     Hope COMBUSTION ONE isn’t too much of a let-down — glad to have your poem in it. 24

     Got your MAYAN and THE DISSOLVING-many, many thanks.   Will them both in next BUST.

     Can use any names of the promising young — already have Ginsberg, MacClure etc.  set with poems.  25

     Irving’s BINOCULARS 26 running into trouble here — publisher who signed to distribute it backed down — Irv getting plenty of publicity in newspapers however.  .  .  .

     Best of luck with the Frisco readings 27 —  hope to have you do them up here before too long.   .  .  .  .

Salud,

Ray

 


8

28 Mayfield Ave.
Toronto 3, Canada
November 19, 1957.

Dear Charles:

Really great to hear from you-like a familiar voice out of the fog,28

     And happy that COMBUSTION gives you some kind of a charge. Granted it hasn’t turned out all that I’d hoped it would — a vehicle for the beat generation — but these things rarely do, so you do the best you can with the materials at hand.  I’d be certainly grateful if you would goose anyone you think would fit in it

     Which brings me around to the proposition-would you be interested in hitting this here neck of the woods sometime around the middle of January? The enclosed leaflet pretty well explains the purpose — or part of it.  We’ve had four readings so far — three local people and Irving up from Montreal.  So I thought it would be nice to start the New Year off with something different — and with you as close as you’ll ever be to Canada I thought it was now or never. 29

     The financial picture isn’t too rosy-but not impossible.   I’m afraid you’d have to use the bus though.  Single fare from Boston is $15. 90 plus tax.  So $20. 00 should get you here.  I can give you $30. 00 for the Gallery reading (Gallery only seats 50 but is a lovely set-up, modern etc).  Then I hope to maybe get you a reading at the University of Toronto.  A TV interview is not out of the question (Irving appeared when he was up here — the National network). 30   Then if you had some books you could bring along to sell at the reading that would add a few bucks to the pot.  When you get tired of Toronto I propose to ship you off to Montreal, where the boys down there can probably set you up with a reading etc.  And of course eating and sleeping is no problem-you can stay with us here in Toronto (my mother-in-law is an excellent Italian cook) and Irving will put you up in Montreal.  Cid did this same circuit a few years back and enjoyed it — besides giving us a real push poetry-wise — you would have an even more important effect, I’m sure.

     So think it over and let me know as soon as possible, so I can start-making the arrangements.  Of course I’ll understand if it isn’t in the cards, but sure hope you can swing it.  If you haven’t been to Canada much, this could be an eye-opener for you, as the place is really moving.

     That’s all for now.  Let’s hear from you fairly soon.   Salud,

Ray

 


9

28 Mayfield Ave
Toronto 3, Canada
February 2, 1958.

Dear Charles:

     Thanks for your note of Jan 17th and for letting me have a look at AND NOW: THE WORLD! I think this is the first poem you ever sent me that I didn’t feel like using.  I like the way if flows along, but after the third stanza you left me completely.  Not that that’s so bloody much, I get lost with a lot of poems and use ’em where I feel maybe the reader has the proper clews — but I don’t feel that with this one.

     All of which gets me around to hoping you’ll be mad enough at getting this sent back that you’ll send me a half dozen others — I’d sure like to feature you in a group .  .

     Still wish you could have made the local scene, for that reading.  We need someone like you to jar us loose from a lot of pretty ideas of what makes a poem.

Yours,

Ray

 


10

28 Mayfield Ave
Toronto 3, Canada,
January 18, 1959.

Dear Charles:

     Very pleased to get a chunk of MAX to use in Combustion. 31  It seems a long way back now to the time I reprinted the first MAX poem in CONTACT.  This slice has all the vigour that was in that first piece for my dough.

     May I throw out the suggestion that a short note of say three or four lines accompany it to fill the reader in on the situation in the poem — or do you think my idea so much shit? Only reason I have is that you have a very local situation here.  But I’m quite happy to print it without. 32

     Sending you my latest mimeo effort under separate cover. 33It’s a mixed bag of odds and ends I wanted to collect together before somebody throws out the scribblers they were written in.

     All the best in the New Year.  And it’s good to hear from you again.

Salud,

Ray

 


11

October 19, 1959.

Dear Charles:

     From the Land of the Maple Leaf a very belated thanks for “O’Ryan” which my “emissary” brought back from his very great visit with you 34 

     Thanks to the trip, I now have pasted in the front of each volume of “Max” a coloured shot of yours truly in the native haunts, which have almost become as familiar to me as my own stamping grounds here in the Queen City.

     You’ll note from the enclosed that Ken has you down to do a reading next April at the Gallery, although he tells me that at the moment it’s nothing more than a hope.  However, I sincerely hope that if you and the Missus can see your way clear at all to make the trip that you’ll do it.  For one, it would be a shame not to take advantage of the fact that the Canada Council would foot your expenses and pay you a reading fee: but most important, the charge that you could give to the poetic scene here, most of the younger members of which have turned their back on contemporary matters and retreated back into the sixteenth century.  You could well make them see that the local can be truly turned into the universal if the love and the care is there.

     Best to all your present work.  Send me a poem for Combustion sometime-it can be used elsewhere without any trouble, it just wouldn’t die in my pages.

Salud,

Ray

 


12

Copy of Letter From
Imperial Bank of Canada,
Toronto, 1, Ont.
Tuesday, May 3,1960.

Dear Charles:

     My head’s still in a whirl from your visit.  Ken says he’ll never be the same again.  I think 1960 will go down in the history of Canadian poetry as the year Charles Olson invaded Canada with a fighting column of poetry. . . . .

     The enclosed appeared in one of the local rags yesterday. 35  You may or may not like it.  Ken will probably be sending you another copy — just in case paper runs out some morning.   .  .  .

     Believe me, it was the greatest weekend.

Salud,

Ray    

 


13

28 Mayfield Ave
Toronto 3, Ont
November 11, 1960.

Dear Charles:

     Leroi Jones was good enough to bring me a copy of the Collect MAX when he came up here in October to kick off this year’s Contact readings.  He got here October 18th and that same day I got the word your tape from the Gallery from April would be on the C. B. C.  that night.  So we took our pocket transitor radio along with us when we went out pub crawling that evening with Leroi.  And at 10:30 sitting in the Westover Basin Street Room with Mike White’s Imperial Jazz Band roaring in our ears we tuned in on the C. B. C.  and Charles Olson reading at the Greenwich, but all I ever heard (I swear it) was the sound of pages being turned over.  Honestly, though, I heard since that it was a great broadcast and did you proud.

     You asking about Combustion is like asking how does the corpse stink that has been buried a couple of months.  When I got up around issue 13 I knew it was near the end, the stuff I was getting didn’t swing any more, and I knew I had to get out of it while the going was good.  #14, and I’m sorry you didn’t get one, was an edition of 50 copies only, as that was all the remains of a 1000 sheets I had left, and all went to the contributors.  I have no regrets over it, we had a good run, and I think it did a little good.

     From the enclosed you’ll see we have these readings in a new location this year — bigger room, room for more people, and a little better publicity. 36  These people have in mind something horrible [in margin: next year] like a writer’s workshop and all that garbage: a good idea maybe if you were left alone and could do what you want, but these people always have their hand in the pie and it tries my patience sometimes.  But we’re having Zukofsky up and Cid and Ted Enslin later and Leroi was a ball, so it’s not all a dead loss.  Maybe you’ll come up again next year if the thing is still going? By that time we should be able to manage a better fee (we’ve got it up to 50 bucks this year).   And Toronto opens up a little more all the time.

     Don’t hear very much from Ken, but I sent your letter along and I know he’s back in London from behind the Iron Veil or whatever they call it.   Where writers live like kings in former palaces and all they have to pay for it is their guts.  By “guts” I mean poetry like Max-and this last section of it a delight, the 1st Letter on Georges, Max to Gloucester, July 19th, but all of it great, and that it should finally get out in a two buck edition the best poetry news in a decade. 37  If you don’t get whatever prizes are going for this, Mr Olson, you should spite them all and run for next President (and speaking of Presidents, I see by the papers you had the bars open election day (to get the bad taste of it out of the mouth, I suppose).

     Got a new book, a good one, I hope, out soon, 38 and will lay one by you, at my peril, I suppose.   But throw the good high hard fast ones at me, as long as you keep out there pitching.  Salud,

Ray

 


14

                                                                                              28 Mayfield Ave,
                                                                                              Toronto 3, Canada,
                                                                                              May 29,1961.

Dear Charles:

     I’m at this business again of lining up poets for our 1961-62 reading series, and damned if these here locals don’t want back a real herring-choker named Olson back here to give them the real gospel.

     Seriously, though, many people have asked for you back, and I want you back, and if the Canada Council comes through we’ll be able to have you back.   How would Feb.  24th suit you?

     McRobbie should be back from Limeyland by then (he says by Xmas) and a fresh boatload is expected (of Cutty Sark) in Toronto harbour about that date, so how about it? Reading in the new enlarged Gallery, a poet’s dream. 39

     Have a new book on the way for the past six months, hope to lay one on you one of these months.  Saw your new one-great to have all the old ones under one roof.

     Let’s hear from you soon.  Salud,

                                                                                              Ray

P. S.  Money deal the same, or more if we can chisel it.  .   .  .


15

                                                                                              October 3, 1985.

Dear Charles Olson:

     Pardon the card, but am in haste, and I want only to say that you’ll accept my invitation to contribute something in the poetry line to a special “Anniversary” issue of Combustion which Vic Coleman is doing at the end of the year, offset printing job, with those contributing including Zukofsky, Turnbull, Corman, Niedecker, Avison, Enslin etc. 40   Can give you up to 10 pages if you feel that ambitious.  Only catch, no payment.  Would like to have it by November 15th: if you’re not interested I’d appreciate a line, otherwise I’ll be holding space for you.  Hope all goes passably, or however it passes in Buffalo.

                                                                                              Salud,

                                                                                              Ray Souster


Notes to the Letters

  1. Charles Olson, “I, Maximus of Gloucester, To You,” Origin #1 (Spring 1951), pp.  1-4; reprinted in Contact #3 (May-July 1952), pp.   9-12. [back]

  2. The first Contact Press book was Cerberus (Toronto: Contact Press, 1952), which, incidentally, contains (in Souster’s preface to his section of the book) what is probably the first mention of Olson’s name in print in Canada. [back]

  3. Such an anthology was never published. [back]

  4. Cid Corman was the editor of Origin.  Vincent Ferrini was a Gloucester, Massachusetts poet and editor of the magazine Four Winds.  Olson’s “Letter 5” of The Maximus Poems (New York: Jargon/Corinth, 1960) is a diatribe against Ferrini and his magazine. [back]

  5. Dudek was at this time a student at Columbia University. [back]

  6. Olson’s letters to Souster are now in the Library of Lakehead University.  The earliest one present, however, is dated October 8, 1955.  The two poems are named in the following letter. [back]

  7. Olson’s “Projective Verse” was first published in Poetry New York #3 (1950), pp.  13-22.  A portion of it was included in William Carlos Williams’ The Autobiography of William Carlos Williams (New York: Random House, 1951), pp. 329-32. [back]

  8. Charles Olson, “I, Maximus (Letter No.  2),” Four Winds #1 (Summer 1952), pp.  40-42, and “HE, WHO IN HIS ABANDONED INFANCY .  .   .  ,” ibid. , p.  43.  Cid Corman, “Commerce “ ibid, pp.  30-31. [back]

  9. Charles Olson, ’The Leader,” Contact 2, 1 (November-January 1952/1953), p.  7; “These Days,” ibid. , p.  6. [back]

  10. Charles Olson, This (Black Mountain: Black Mountain College Graphics Workshop, 1952), reprinted in Contact #8 (September-December 1953), pp. 18-19. [back]

  11. "Merce of Egypt” was first published in the Montevallo Review 1, 4 (Summer 1953), Hip.  20-21.  It was collected in In Cold Hell, In Thicket (Mallorca: Divers Press, 1953), pp.  62-3 (this book constituted the eighth issue of Origin), and reprinted in Contact #8 (September-December 1953), pp. 1-2. [back]

  12. The Divers Press was a small press in Mallorca with which Robert Creeley was associated.  Jargon was the name under which Jonathan Williams (a student of Olson’s at Black Mountain College) published books. [back]

  13. The letter here referred to has apparently not survived. [back]

  14. The first issue of the Black Mountain Review is dated Spring, 1954.   It contained a review by Robert Creeley (pp.  51-4) of Cerberus, n Canadian Poems 1850-1952 (both Contact Press books), and Contact #4-8. [back]

  15. Charles Olson, Mayan letters, ed.  Robert Creeley (Mallorca: Divers Press, 1953). [back]

  16. The tenth and last issue of Contact is dated March, 1954. [back]

  17. CIV/n, the Montreal-based little magazine edited by Aileen Collins from 1953-54.   Dudek’s review of The Maximus Poems appeared in the fifth issue, pp.  26-7, and is reprinted in his Selected Essays and Criticism (Ottawa: The Tecumseh Press, 1978), p. 37. [back]

  18. This most likely refers to For What Time Slays (Toronto: Contact Press, 1955).  Olson acknowledges receipt of this book and comments extensively on it in his letter to Souster of October 8,1955, now in the library of Lakehead University. [back]

  19. English poet Gael Turnbull. [back]

  20. The decision to close Black Mountain College was made “early in the fall of 1956.  .  .  [though] Olson stayed on .  .  .  for about six months” to wind up its affairs.  See Mar tin Duberman Black Mountain: An Exploration in Community (New York: E. P.  Dutton, 1972), pp.  411-12. [back]

  21. Paul Blackburn, The Dissolving Fabric (Mallorca: The Divers Press, 1955). [back]

  22. In his reply of January 6, 1957 (letter in the library of Lakehead University), Olson wrote:

    .  .  .  (the College has only stopped teaching.  Actually the theater is intact — 16 of em, plus two Fac[ulty] ([Wesley] Huss directing Duncan writing his Medea trilogy our producing there as “The Theater of Black Mt College"

    The Review

    will continue (7 going to bed now, and 8 is financed) .  .  .

    (Quoted with the permission of the Estate of Charles Olson).  The seventh issue of the Black Mountain Review (Spring 1957) was, in fact, the last. [back]

  23. Robert Creeley. [back]

  24. Charles Olson, “The Loves of Anat, 1,” Combustion #1 (January 1957), p.  6. [back]

  25. Allen Ginsberg and Michael McClure. [back]

  26. Irving Layton’s The Improved Binoculars was first published in 1956 by Jonathan Williams.  The first edition was to have been distributed in Canada by the Ryerson Press.  The second, enlarged edition appeared the following year and was distributed in Canada by the Contact Press. [back]

  27. Olson read the Maximus Poems in San Francisco in February, 1957 (letter to Raymond Souster, January 6, 1957, now in the library of Lakehead University). [back]

  28. This letter has apparently not survived. [back]

  29. This is the first occasion on which Souster invited Olson to take part in the series of readings which he helped to set up in Toronto beginning in 1957-58.  The first two seasons were organized by Souster, Jack Hersh, Donald Priestman, and gallery owner Avrom Isaacs.  By the third year (1959-60) the series was called the Contact Poetry Readings, and Hersh and Priestman had been replaced by Kenneth McRobbie.  Olson read on April 30, 1960, and again on February 24, 1962. [back]

  30. George Butterick, curator of the Olson Archives, informs me that Olson was taped by CBC-TV on April 29, 1960, for the interview show “Tabloid".  The CBC has been unable to locate the tape of this programme, nor can they supply a broadcast date. [back]

  31. Charles Olson, “From the Maximus Letters,” Combustion #10 (May 1959), pp.  3-4, collected as “John Burke” in The Maximus Poems, pp.   142-44, with “A Footnote to the Above. “[back]

  32. In reply to Souster’s request for an explanatory note, Olson wrote:

    I follow you on the advantage a note might give the reader, but just because the proper noun is my risk, may I not ask the reader to come in as best he can?.  .  .   It’s a devil of a problem I am involved in anyway, as you’d know.  I have to believe that, in the end, when the ’Letters’ all lay themselves out, the ’difficulty’ will resolve.

    (Letter to Souster January 22, 1959, now in the library of Lakehead University, and quoted with the permission of the Estate of Charles Olson). [back]

  33. Raymond Souster, Crepe-Hanger’s Carnival: Selected Poems 1956-1968 (Toronto: Contact Press, 1958). [back]

  34. Charles Olson, O ’Ryan 2 4 6 8 10 (San Francisco: White Rabbit Press, 1958).   Souster’s emissary was Kenneth McRobbie, who visited Olson in Gloucester that year. [back]

  35. Robert Fulford, “A poet of substance,” Toronto Daily Star (May 2, 1960), p.  34[back]

  36. In the 1960-61 season, the Contact Poetry Readings moved from the Greenwich Gallery to the YM-YWHA on Spadina Street in Toronto. [back]

  37. Olson’s “First Letter on Georges” and “Maximus, to Gloucester, Sunday, July 19” first appeared in The Maximus Poems, pp.  136-38 and 152-54. [back]

  38. This most likely refers to Place of Meeting, the publication of which was much delayed (see letter 14).  The book appeared in 1962. [back]

  39. The Contact Poetry Readings for 1961- 62 took place in the Isaacs Gallery on Yonge Street in Toronto. [back]

  40. Combustion 15/Island 6 contained no work by Olson. [back]