Poetry As Protein (John Olson on Michael McClure)

There is no other poet/scholar in Seattle like John Olson. In fact, there’s no one in the world quite like him. His appetite for language is unmatched. We all are our language, to some degree, but John lives words. Breathes syllables. Exhales some of the most fascinating scholarship and poetry that there is, sourced in Gertrude Stein, Dada, Surrealism, a Beat ethos and done with endless curiosity and a rare (in this realm) humility.



So, when I saw the link on Silliman’s Blog to John’s review of Michael McClure’s latest book, Mysteriosos and Other Poems, I cringed a little. I mean, you bet I want to review the book, but how could I do it justice after John’s research into musical forms, biology experiments going back 60 years, McClure’s relationship with nature juxtaposed with the current nature as inert commodity mentality and a brilliant breakdown of one of the more striking short poems in the book.

Well, I can’t compete. That’s pointless. But competition is not part of John Olson’s realm, nor McClure’s. Sure, John sometimes wishes he had the audience of the average rock star, but John is like one of our brightest poetry rock stars in Seattle, and fathoms more interesting than any person working in that field.

So, yes, read his review, linked below. Buy one of his books at Open Books, and give thanks for people like him doing it the old fashioned way, living the life of writer and scholar, even as he makes this belated plunge into social networking and the blog-o-sphere.

Poetry As Protein

Mysteriosos, and Other Poems
Michael McClure
New Directions, 2010

reviewed by John Olson

About Splabman

Poet & interviewer Paul E Nelson founded SPLAB (Seattle Poetics LAB) & the Cascadia Poetry Festival. Since 1993, SPLAB has produced hundreds of poetry events & 600 hours of interview programming with legendary poets & whole systems activists including Allen Ginsberg, Michael McClure, Joanne Kyger, Robin Blaser, Diane di Prima, Daphne Marlatt, Nate Mackey, George Bowering, Barry McKinnon, José Kozer, Brenda Hillman & many others. Paul’s books include American Prophets (interviews 1994-2012) (2018) American Sentences (2015) A Time Before Slaughter (2009) and Organic in Cascadia: A Sequence of Energies (2013). Co-Editor of Make It True: Poetry From Cascadia (2015), 56 Days of August: Poetry Postcards (2017) and Samthology: A Tribute to Sam Hamill (2019) Make it True meets Medusario (2019), he’s presented poetry/poetics in London, Brussels, Nanaimo, Qinghai & Beijing, China, has had work translated into Spanish, Chinese & Portuguese & writes an American Sentence every day. Awarded a residency at The Lake, from the Morris Graves Foundation in Loleta, CA, he’s published work in Golden Handcuffs Review, Zen Monster, Hambone, and elsewhere. Winner of the 2014 Robin Blaser Award from The Capilano Review, he is engaged in a 20 year bioregional cultural investigation of Cascadia and lives in Rainier Beach, in the Cascadia bioregion’s Cedar River watershed.
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