Staying Open: Charles Olson’s Sources and Influences

Joshua S. Hoeynck (Ed.)

by Kirsty Singer (University of California: Irvine), Dylan J. Clark (University of North Carolina, Chapel Hill), Nathanael Pree (The University of Sydney), Jeffrey Gardiner , Michael Kindellan (University of Sheffield ), Joshua Gardner (University of North Carolina, Asheville), Daniel D. Fineman (Occidental College, USA), Alexander Ruggeri (Tufts University), Joshua S. Hoeynck (Case Western Reserve University), Seth Johnson Forrest (Coppin State University, USA), Michael Jonik (University of Sussex), Jeff Davis

Purchase this book

$ 64
Availability: In stock
currency displayed based on your location
(click here to change currency)

Joshua Hoeynck’s Staying Open: Charles Olson’s Sources and Influences sheds further light on Olson’s inspirations and offers renewed perspectives that should find a prominent place in the canon of Olson studies. Framed by John Livingston Lowes’ ideas on the imaginative process, the intellectually stimulating essays in this volume weigh the origins of Charles Olson’s theories and verse as they relate to diverse areas of study—from the physiological and psychological to the ecological and epistemological. By hearkening to Lowes’ process of creative association, this study reminds us of the seemingly endless connections between, and permutations of, Olson’s ideas, his words, and our world.
-John Woznicki, editor of The New American Poetry: Fifty Years Later

“One makes many,” Olson wrote, and the essays in this wide-ranging collection take us on a compelling journey outward through his own multiplicity. Whether encountering pedagogical spaces or philosophical texts, the music of his contemporaries or the art of indigenous cultures, Olson was both made and remade by his sources. By mapping these relationships, Staying Open substantially expands the field of Olson studies while offering us a valuable case study of the synthetic, worldly assemblage that is poetics.
-Paul Jaussen, author of Writing in Real Time

Staying Open marks an important addition to the recent flowering of scholarly work on Charles Olson, such as Ben Hollander’s Letters for Olson, Ammiel Alcalay’s a little history, and David Herd’s Contemporary Olson.
-Gary Grieve-Carlson, editor of Olson’s Prose

Each of the invaluable essays gathered here brings to bear a wealth of source materials on topics ranging from pedagogy and Black Mountain College to the influence of Alfred North Whitehead, Anni Albers, and Pierre Boulez; from Olson’s use of Mayan and Aboriginal materials to his consideration of race. Most importantly, going against so much of the current academic grain, the whole collection is permeated by the very quality that ought to drive enduring scholarship: the genuine desire to find out more and continue illuminating the paths trod before us.
-Ammiel Alcalay, author of a little history

“Staying Open, Charles Olson’s Sources and Influences” investigates the inter-disciplinary influences on the work of the mid-Century American poet, Charles Olson. This edited collection of essays covers Olson’s diverse non-literary interests, including his engagement with the music of John Cage and Pierre Boulez, his interests in abstract expressionism, and his readings of philosopher Alfred North Whitehead. The essays also examine Olson’s pedagogy, which he developed in the experimental environment at Black Mountain College, as well as his six-month archeological journey through the Yucatan Peninsula in 1950 to explore the culture of the Maya. This book will, therefore, be a strong research aid to scholars working in diverse fields – music, archeology, pedagogy, philosophy, art, and psychology – as it outlines methods for close inter-disciplinary work that can uncover the mechanics of Olson’s creative, literary processes.
Building on the straightforward scholarship of George Butterick, whose Guide to the Maximus Poems remains indispensable for readers of Olson’s work, the essays in this volume will also guide readers through the thick allusions within The Maximus Poems itself. New interest in the wide-ranging and non-literary nature of Olson’s thought in several recent academic works makes this book both timely and necessary. Physics Envy: American Poetry and Science in the Cold War and After by Peter Middleton as well as Contemporary Olson edited by David Herd have started the process of uncovering the extent to which Olson’s inter-disciplinary interests inflected his poetic compositions. “Staying Open” extends the preliminary investigations of Olson’s non-literary sources in those volumes by bringing together a community of scholars working across disciplines and within a wide variety of humanistic concerns.


Chapter 1 Projective Verse and pedagogy
Michael Kindellan

Chapter 2 Olson’s poetics and pedagogy: influences at Black Mountain College
Jeff Gardiner

Chapter 3 Olson’s Dérive, near-far Boulez
Michael Jonik

Chapter 4 “By ear, he sd.”: open listening with Charles Olson and John Cage
Alexander Ruggeri

Chapter 5 “Mu-sick, mu-sick, mu-sick”: Olson’s stammer and the poetics of noise
Seth Johnson Forrest

Chapter 6 Shadow on the rock: morphology and voice in Olson’s later Maximus poems
Jeff Davis

Chapter 7 Charles Olson and his “post-modern” exploration
Joshua Gardner

Chapter 8 “what insides are”: history—gravitational and unrelieved
Kirsty Singer

Chapter 9 Revising the stance of “Projective Verse”: Charles Olson’s ecological vision of Alfred North Whitehead’s cosmology
Joshua Hoeynck

Chapter 10 Olson, Peirce, Whitehead, and American process poetics
Daniel D. Fineman

Chapter 11 Maximus and Aboriginal Australia: antipodean influences on the archaic proprioceptive epic
Nathanael Pree

Chapter 12 An Archaeologist of Morning in the Mayab, 1951
Dylan Clark


Joshua Hoeynck received his Ph.D. from Washington University in St. Louis, and his research focuses primarily on the confluences between process philosophy, Black Mountain poetry, and environmental criticism. His work has appeared in The New American Poetry: Fifty Years Later, Contemporary Literature, and Process Studies. He is currently completing a book manuscript on the correspondences between Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan, and Denise Levertov. Additionally, in conjunction with the Charles Olson Society, he is publishing a collection of expanded talks from the Society's American Literature Association panels. He teaches writing and literature in the SAGES program at Case Western Reserve University, with courses on the American Western, environmental dystopia, the history of ecology in American literature, and Magical Realism.

Charles Olson, Alfred North Whitehead, Charles Saunders Pierce, John Cage, Pierre Boulez, Maya archeology, Maya hieroglyphs, Aboriginal culture, pedagogy and poetry, post-modernism, influence, inter-disciplinarity

See also

Bibliographic Information

Book Title

Staying Open: Charles Olson’s Sources and Influences





Number of pages


Physical size

236mm x 160mm


12 B&W

Publication date

May 2019