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Disching The Dirt

June 02, 1991

The choice of Disch, who dislikes Olson, to review Clark's biography of Olson is hard to understand. Rarely have I read such an ill-tempered review. I knew there was trouble brewing in the first paragraph: "this biography of a minor- league poet . . . "

As Tom Disch is not exactly a household word, the specter of sour grapes seems to hover darkly, and perhaps explains this diatribe against Olson. Disch may not like Olson's poetry, but his review amounts to character assassination!

He fails to mention that Olson launched an entire generation of post-Williams poets into action, that he broke new poetic ground with his projective verse, and that he was a force to be reckoned with for anyone who had anything to do with him, even, apparently, for Thomas Disch.

It is laughable that Disch dismisses such poets as Creeley, Codrescu and Dorn as having missed the "lesson" of the book, which, according to him, is that megalomania, booze and drugs are bad, not exactly an earth-shattering revelation. . . .

PHOEBE MACADAMS, LOS ANGELES

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