Anyone at all interested in Charles Olson (whom I quoted in the early days of LH) will want to watch the documentary Polis Is This by Henry Ferrini (linked page has six YouTube segments); you can see a review here, from which I excerpt a bit:

Lasting only an hour, Polis is This manages a compact introduction to Olson’s history, poetics, and landscape. In addition to primary footage of the man reading, lecturing, and ambling, are commentators ranging from Gloucester locals to family, scholars, and poets. A delivery man, on being asked if he’d heard of Olson, responds, “The poet? The big guy?” and goes on to say he appeared, as a child, in one of Olson’s poems….
Polis is This reinvigorated my interest and provided footholds into the substance of Olson’s work that have enhanced my subsequent reading. I was particularly helped by the passages where Olson’s recitations are given follow-the-bouncing-ball treatment: the poem, on screen, is filled in as it’s read, giving a sense of how it is intended to sound.

I wish more poets were given this kind of treatment; it really makes both the work and the person come alive.


  1. Notice, among many other delights, his ordinary New England pronunciation in “bent to a north easter.”

  2. Von Bladet of the Desert, NM says

    Man, seven long years ago when the YouTubes came in 10 minute chunks and 240p was a lot! (The past is another country – the infrastructure just isn’t up to scratch, dahlink!)

    But I enjoyed the film a lot, and I would be happy if more poets got this kind of treatment and frankly why not: everyone carries a film studio in their pocket these days.

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