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Saturation Job (Charles Olson)

Charles Olson

Charles Olson

In 1955, Charles Olson wrote two letters to the young poet Ed Dorn that he then revised as A Bibliography on America for Ed Dorn.  At one point, Olson argued:

PRIMARY DOCUMENTS. And to hook on here is a lifetime of assiduity. Best thing to do is to dig one thing or place or man until you yourself know more abt that than is possible to any other man. It doesn’t matter whether it’s Barbed Wire or Pemmican or Paterson or Iowa. But exhaust it. Saturate it. Beat it.

And then U KNOW everything else very fast: one saturation job (it might take 14 years). And you’re in, forever.


Olson, Charles. Collected Prose. Berkeley: University of California, 1997.