Monday, May 31, 2010

Gloucester’s Charles Olson Centenary Celebration Receives Grant from Bruce J. Anderson Foundation

The Charles Olson Society, a 501 © (3) nonprofit organization, has received a $2500 grant from the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation to assist in planning and organizing a series of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the renowned Gloucester poet, Charles Olson. The main events will take place in downtown Gloucester on Columbus Day weekend (Friday, October 8 through Sunday, October 10), though other events will be held before the main festival. The Olson Society is soliciting matching donations to make it all happen.

Events will include a Charles Olson study group for local citizens, led by writers James Cook and Peter Anastas, meeting at The Bookstore in Gloucester’s West End once a week for five weeks prior to Columbus Day weekend; nightly readings at venues throughout Gloucester in the week prior to the main events; symposia and panel discussions at the Cape Ann Museum; a marathon reading at the Independent Church on Middle Street on Friday, October 8; featured readers at the Independent Church on Saturday, October 9; an Olson walk with readings highlighting sites in “The Maximus Poems” on Sunday; a performance of Olson’s dance play, “Apollonius of Tyana” presented by Gloucester dancer and choreographer Sarah Slifer and Mark Wagner, director of Worcester’s Charles Olson Centenary, held on March 25-27, 2010 in the city of Olson’s birth; and music from Willie Alexander, whose raucous musical setting of Olson's "Gravelly Hill" can be heard at the end of Polis is This and whose "Mass Ave" is the signature song of early punk rock in Boston.

These events, and several others being discussed, will complement an Olson exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum, which will open the first weekend in October. In addition the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library is sponsoring a special catalog/exhibition of rare, inscribed, and out‑of‑print books, letters, magazines and broadsides by Olson, curated by Greg Gibson of Ten Pound Island Book Company.

According to Olson Society president, Schuyler Hoffman, the Olson centennial celebrations in Gloucester will provide people with an opportunity to extend and intensify discussions and debates begun at events celebrating Olson’s life and work in Worcester, in March, and at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver, in June. Hoffman noted that the Gloucester events will also provide a unique opportunity for Olson's readers to encounter many local sites described in Olson’s masterwork, The Maximus Poems, in the company of other poets, scholars, and enthusiasts.

“The ways contemporary poets, artists, teachers, and activists are responding to Olson's work ‑‑ exploring, extending, critiquing, revising‑‑ will be at the core of the Gloucester events,” Hoffman says. “With help from contributors we can make Gloucester's Charles Olson centennial events challenging, nourishing, and of essential use to those who attend.”

Tax-deductible contributions to help plan and organize the celebration may be sent to Olson Society treasurer, Kent Bowker, 11 Indian Rock Lane, Essex, MA. 01929, with checks made out to “The Charles Olson Society.”