An essential selection of the poetry of one of the most important twentieth-century creative movements.
Black Mountain College had an explosive influence on American poetry, music, art, craft, dance, and thought; it’s hard to imagine any other institution that was so utopian, rebellious, and experimental. Founded with the mission of creating rounded, complete people by balancing the arts and manual labor within a democratic, nonhierarchical structure, Black Mountain was a crucible of revolutionary literature. Although this artistic haven only existed from 1933 to 1956, Black Mountain helped inspire some of the most radical and significant midcentury American poets.
This anthology begins with the well-known Black Mountain Poets— Charles Olson, Robert Creeley, Robert Duncan and Denise Levertov—but also includes the artist Josef Albers and the musician John Cage, as well as the often overlooked women associated with the college, M. C. Richards and Hilda Morley.
Black Mountain grasped the dream of art as a lived condition rather than a hoarded possession.
— Holland Cotter, The New York Times
The power of anthologies lies not only in the individual works themselves but in the relationships between them. To anthologize is to confront, and perhaps even subvert, the myth of the solitary writer. In Black Mountain Poems, editor Jonathan C. Creasy strongly engages in this type of rebellion. He is true to the nature of his subject: Black Mountain College radically pushed against glorified individualism and nourished a notion of art based on community. It is a sense of ‘scriptural communion,’ as Creasy calls it, that anchors this collection of 16 poets.
A fine, pocket-sized companion to an important artistic moment.
— The Millions
It seems as though half the midcentury American avant-garde came through Black Mountain.
— Louis Menard, The New Yorker
Art is spirit and spirit is eternal.
— Josef Albers
Black Mountain Poems makes a case that the Black Mountain poetics is grounded in the fullness of life.