Influential, experimental poet Anne Waldman will give the third annual Charles Olson lecture on Saturday at 3 p.m. at the Cape Ann Museum in Gloucester, delivering a talk titled “Robert Duncan’s Dream.”
Waldman is carrying on a tradition begun in 2010 with the Charles Olson Centennial, when Diane di Prima, the former poet laureate of San Francisco, delivered the first Charles Olson Lecture. Last year, noted poet, writer and filmmaker Iain Sinclair came from London to give the second annual lecture.
An author of more than 40 collections of poetry, she is a founder of the Jack Kerouac School of Disembodied Poetics at Naropa University, based in Colorado. She is active in the Outrider experimental poetry movement, and has been connected to the Beat movement and the second generation of the New York School.
Waldman first met Charles Olson at the celebrated Berkeley Poetry Conference in 1965, held at the campus of the University of California, attended by many post modernist poets, many who now are recognized for their work, some of which was once considered counter-culture and often shunned by the mainstream press at the time.
“(This meeting with Olson) changed my life and set me on the spiritual path of poetry,” Waldman said through a statement. “I had already been to Gloucester, a kind of Maximus pilgrimage, but then saw Olson later in London in 1967 at an international festival which again, his performance there, re-confirmed my desires to enter the poem-zone.”
Gloucester’s Charles Olson (1910-1970), a Post Modern poet, left a legacy that continues to have world-wide influence among both an old guard and new guard of scholars and writers. His last work, titled “The Maximus Poems,” is an epic poem that centered on Gloucester as a microcosm of the world.
Waldman’s talk draws from a seminal dream from Robert Duncan’s “The H.D. Book,” and the notion of the poet’s job as “looking into the darkness of one’s time.” This presentation will reference the Arab Spring, Occupy Movement, cultural activism, and Waldman’s own investigations into symbiosis, cellular memory and drone technology. The lecture will be accompanied by a presentation of images relating to the entire text.
The book by Duncan (1919-1988) was titled after another poet Hilda Doolittle (1886-1961), an avant garde poet who became known as H.D.
Henry Ferrini, co-director of the Gloucester Writers Center, noted that after Olson’s death, Waldman traveled to Gloucester and visited with the late poet Vincent Ferrini and Gerrit Lansing, another poet who still resides here.
“My feeling is she could have lived here in a previous lifetime as Judith Sargent Murray,” Ferrini said. “Both women are strong writers, political activists in touch with something greater than themselves.”
Last year, Waldman’s 720-page poem “The Iovis Trilogy” was published in its entirety. Waldman is also a performer, editor, scholar and cultural/political activist.
In her 1993 introduction to Iovis, Waldman wrote: “I honor and dance on the corpse of the poetry gone before me and especially here is a debt and challenge of epic masters, Williams, Pound, Zukofsky and Olson…I want to don armor of words as they do and fight with liberated tongue and punctured heart.”
In anticipation of Waldman’s lecture, Ferrini said considering the title, he’d expect a combination of dreams, diaries and “behind the scene headlines roasted over the fire of her imagination.”
Waldman will be accompanied by her son, Ambrose Bye, who is a composer/producer, who produced four albums with his mother, “In the Room of Never Grieve,” “The Eye of the Falcon,” “Matching Half” and “The Milk of Universal Kindness.”
The Cape Ann Museum is located at 27 Pleasant St. in Gloucester. For more information, visit gloucesterwriters.org. This event is a collaboration among the museum, the Charles Olson Society and the Gloucester Writers Center.
Gail McCarthy can be reached at 978-283-7000, x3445, or at email@example.com.