Monday, June 14, 2010

Gloucester’s Charles Olson Centenary Celebration Receives Grant from Bruce J. Anderson Foundation

The Charles Olson Society, a local 501 © (3) nonprofit organization, has received a $2500 grant from the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation to assist in planning and organizing a series of events to commemorate the 100th anniversary of the birth of the renowned Gloucester poet, Charles Olson.

The Bruce J. Anderson Foundation is a supporting organization of the Boston Foundation. It makes awards for preventive programs, direct services, and new initiatives in the fields of mental health, environmental protection and the arts. In past years, awards have gone to seArts, Gloucester Stage Company, Cape Ann Art Haven, and the Cape Ann Symphony Association, among other local recipients.

The main events of the Charles Olson Centenary celebration will take place in downtown Gloucester on Columbus Day weekend (Friday, October 8 through Sunday, October 10), though other events will be held before the main festival. The Olson Society is soliciting matching donations to make it all happen.

Events will include a Charles Olson study group for local citizens, led by writers James Cook and Peter Anastas, meeting at The Book Store in Gloucester's West End once a week for five weeks prior to Columbus Day weekend; nightly readings at venues throughout Gloucester in the week prior to the main events; symposia and panel discussions, co-sponsored with the Cape Ann Museum, followed by a screening of Henry Ferrini’s award-winning film about Olson and Gloucester, “Polis is This”; a marathon reading at the Independent Christian Church UUC on Middle Street on Friday, October 8; featured readers on Saturday, October 9; and an Olson walk with readings highlighting sites in “The Maximus Poems” on Sunday, followed by a performance of Olson’s dance play, “Apollonius of Tyana” presented at the Blackburn Theater by Gloucester dancer and choreographer Sarah Slifer and Mark Wagner, director of Worcester’s Charles Olson Centenary, held on March 25-27, 2010 in the city of Olson’s birth. Following the dance performance on Sunday, Willie “Loco” Alexander, the "legendary Godfather of Boston Punk,” will perform with his band, including the presentation of Olson’s poems set to music.

These events, and several others being discussed, will complement an Olson exhibit at the Cape Ann Museum, which will open the first weekend in October. In addition, the Gloucester Lyceum and Sawyer Free Library is sponsoring a special catalog/exhibition of rare, inscribed, and out of print books, letters, magazines and broadsides by Olson, curated by Greg Gibson of Ten Pound Island Book Company.

According to Olson Society president, Schuyler Hoffman, the Olson centennial celebrations in Gloucester will provide people with an opportunity to extend and intensify discussions and debates begun at events celebrating Olson’s life and work in Worcester, in March, and at Simon Fraser University, in Vancouver, in June.

Hoffman noted that the Gloucester events will also provide a unique opportunity for Olson's readers to encounter many local sites described in Olson’s masterwork, “The Maximus Poems,” in the company of other poets, scholars, and enthusiasts.
“The ways contemporary poets, artists, teachers, and activists are responding to Olson's work— exploring, extending, critiquing, revising—will be a principal focus of the Gloucester events,” Hoffman said.

“We’re grateful to the Bruce J. Anderson Foundation for the core grant to plan and coordinate the celebration. With help from other contributors we can make Gloucester's Charles Olson centennial events challenging, nourishing, and of essential use to those who attend,” Hoffman added.

Tax-deductible contributions to help organize the celebration may be sent to Olson Society treasurer, Kent Bowker, 11 Indian Rock Lane, Essex, MA. 01929, with checks made out to “The Charles Olson Society.” Further up-to-date information can be obtained by visiting the web site,