No Sleep till Gloucester


Charles Olson’s Table

“Standing in line early in the morning at the Dunkin Donuts located at the service area on Route 128 North heading into Gloucester, I thought to myself that this ‘mole’ brought into town, not just the tourists, businessmen, and developers so feared and despised by Charles Olson as bringing ashore the downfall of his Tyre on the Atlantic. No, for slightly more than half a century, artists, activists, writers, and scholars used this causeway to visit Olson, and these intellectual and cultural tourists sought to open up Gloucester Harbor to all manner of new currents in art, literature, and culture. I guess I could be considered just another in a long line of such tourists. In 2007 I came up here to check out 28 Fort Square, the Mecca of Maximus. Olson’s humble squat by the sea, just a short swim away from Ten Pound Island. Almost a decade later, 108 East Main Street became my port of call, just down the road from my digs at the Gloucester Writer’s Center on 126 East Main, the former home of poet Vincent Ferrini, who published Four Winds and received some of the first Maximus Poems in the post. Technically, I arrived as a Writer-in-Residence, in order to work on my nebulous Floating Bear book project, the idea for which has been gestating since well before my last visit here, as well as to give a presentation on the William Burroughs archive, but in reality what got me on the road was the opportunity to lock myself in the two small rooms housing the Ralph Maud/Charles Olson Library. A little background on this treasure chest chock full of bibliographic booty. Ralph Maud was a scholar and academic, who served as the Boswell to Olson’s Johnson. For me Maud is best known as the author of Olson’s Reading: A Biography, which listed the books Olson read and lived with, arguing that books were the driving passion of Olson’s life. It is an incredible example of making the bibliographic biographical. This is a road not travelled as extensively by Michael Stevens in his The Road to Interzone: Reading William S. Burroughs’ Reading. Such is the future of Burroughs studies. …”
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