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Edward Dorn’s 1981 Charles Olson Memorial Lecture

On April 25th this year I mentioned the publication of Michael Rumaker’s Selected Letters as part of the extraordinarily professional and helpful series Lost and Found, The Cuny Poetics Document Initiative produced under the general editorship of Ammiel Alcalay. Having now seen the whole of Series 3 I have to say more!

Number 5 in the series contains the Charles Olson Memorial Lectures given by Edward Dorn. Dorn opens his lecture of March 19th 1981 by referring to Olson’s ‘legacy of intelligence’ which ‘has surely equipped those who knew him, or have learned from what he left, to weather in some spirit the abysmal storms which are routine in any future.’

What Dorn misses in Olson is, amongst so much else, ‘what all of us got from his actual presence: the ameliorating transport of his ability to relate not just the parts to the whole, but all the parts.’


The lecture also includes a letter from Jeremy Prynne to Dorn dated 22nd February 1981 which is well worth contemplating as he refers to English poets who ‘just fade smugly away; only a jetsam of token culture—poets, with hands outstretched toward disconnected levers, hanging around in Ireland or Earl’s Court.’


This wonderful Series 3 of the Lost & Found project includes two volumes of correspondence between Charles Olson and John Wieners and the whole batch of chapbooks can be purchased from The Centre for the Humanities, The Graduate Centre, CUNY, 365 Fifth Avenue, Room 5103, New York, NY 10016.

You can also subscribe or order books online at

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