Charles Olson (1910–1970) was an American poet who is reputed to have coined the term "postmodernism." Olson grew up in Worcester, Massachusetts and was educated at Wesleyan University and Harvard. For many years, he worked in politics, participating in the election campaign of Franklin Roosevelt and as publicity director of the American Civil Liberties Union. After Roosevelt’s death, Olson retired from politics to a life of writing, working on The Maximus Poems, which remained unfinished after his death.
Charles Olson (1910-1970), described by William Carlos Williams as "a major poet with a sweep of understanding of the world" and who, as Joel Oppenheimer once wrote, "brought two generations to life," stood as a bridge between the first leaders of the modern movement, such as Pound and Stein, and some of the most important later innovators (Denise Levertov acclaimed his work "magnificent"). This landmark collection, first published in 1967 and edited by his long-time friend Robert Creeley, includes poems from Olson’s superlative book, The Distances, as well as from his epic Maximus Poems. Also included are the entirety of the "Mayan Letters," written to Creeley while Olson was in the Yucatan studying Mayan hieroglyphs; "Appolonius of Tyana," a background script for an original dance play; and his ground-breaking manifesto on "Projective Verse" as well as other essential essays.