Black Mountain grasped the dream of art as a lived condition rather than a hoarded possession.
—Holland Cotter, The New York Times

Available November 26, 2019

Black Mountain Poems


Edited by Jonathan C. Creasy

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 interdisciplinary, rebellious, utopian, 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 create and foster some of the most radical and significant midcentury American poets.

The editor of this anthology, Jonathan C. Creasy, begins with the well-known Black Mountain Poets—Olson, Creeley, Duncan, Levertov, and Williams—but expands the selection to include 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.

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Black Mountain grasped the dream of art as a lived condition rather than a hoarded possession.
—Holland Cotter, The New York Times
There’s something so vital and so pure about this collection of poems from minds like R. Buckminster Fuller, Denise Levertov, John Cage, and Josef Albers⁠—voices which, like the Black Mountain School itself, could not be contained by one medium. I’m jealous of this special golden hour of art contained by the capsule of this book. Take me back to school, Black Mountain, to try weaving alongside Anni Albers, watch Ruth Osawa sculpt wire choreography, ponder a geodesic dome, bask in the dare-I-say “childlike innocence’” of these brilliant artists at unfettered, serious play. Can making art make a better world? I sure hope so. Anni Albers’s words from the Black Mountain College Bulletin capture the ardent, humble philosophy of this moment in time: “If education can lead us to elementary seeing, away from too much and too complex information, to the quietness of vision and discipline of forming, it again may prepare us for the task ahead, working for today and tomorrow.” And now, how hungry our ardent hearts are for this kind of quiet earnest discipline.
—Gina Balibrera Amyx, Literati Bookstore
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