October 13, 2010

Charles Olson Centennial Celebration -- Saturday, October 9 (Part 2)

After the panels, there was a showing of Henry Ferrini & Ken Riaf's definitive Polis is This: Charles Olson & the Persistence of Place at the Cape Ann Community Cinema, 21 Main St. The film contains lots of ghosts, including poets like Robert Creely & Vincent Ferrini, who are no longer with us, some of the footage shot at the 1995 Charles Olson Festival.

As the sun set we were back at the Independent Christian Church for a reading by Michael Rumaker & Diane DiPrima, where we were for the Marathon reading last night. In a way this was the "crown jewel" of the weekend. Michael Rumaker had been at Black Mountain College when Olson was rector & has written a book about his time there, Black Mountain Days. Diane DiPrima was there in the early days of the Beat scene, wrote Memoirs of a Beatnik, tons of poetry (& still cranking them out) & published Olson's poetry in the early days.

Peter Anastas served as overall moderator & introduced Lisa Rich, who introduced Michael Rumaker by reading a provocative passage from his one-act play Queers.

Michael Rumaker, after enduring technical problems with his mic, solved by duct-taping together a mic stand & a candle snuffter, read from his memoir Black Mountain Days about first meeting Charles Olson. He was patient, gentle, good-humored & told a good story. Reading from Pizza, a collection of his poetry, he said "Charles would have hated this poem" ("For Charles Olson"), but we loved it.

The microphone issues were somewhat resolved for Diane DiPrima's reading. She was introduced by Gloucester's Poet Laureate Ruthanne Collinson. Diane gave a long reading, beginning with a 1956 poem to her unborn daughter, then on to a couple of poems relating to Olson, one on the question of Muses for male & female poets, & the wide-ranging "For Charles from Marshall in a Year of Drought." Then a series of her "Revolutionary Letters" & other political poems, right up to "About Obama" written in May. She concluded with a cluster from her "Loba" series, currently working on Book 3.

A night of Elders paying tribute to one of their Elders, as the bardic tradition is passed on from generation to generation, old poets to young poets, a word-chain in the meat-chain.

1 comment:

Margaret Bryant said...

Thank you, Dan, for always sharing the best of the best with us.