Modern American poet Charles Olson had many correspondents over the years, but Frances Boldereff, a book designer and typographer, James Joyce scholar, and single working mother, embodied a dynamic complexity of interlocutor, muse, Sybil, lover, critic, and amanuensis.
After Completion: The Later Letters of Charles Olson and Frances Boldereff
continues from the point at which earlier letters, collected in A Modern Correspondence
(Wesleyan University Press, 1999), left off. Spanning three years and more than three hundred letters, that edition concludes with a crisis on Labor Day weekend 1950 that amounted to a “completion” of one of the major phases of their relationship.
After Completion picks up the correspondence post-crisis, and consists of nearly 150 letters written between 1950 and 1969. In this period of the correspondence, we witness the intensity of the letters flare intermittently, sometimes explosively, as Olson and Boldereff try to maintain some continuity in their separateness. In these later letters, we also experience their magnificent mutual embracing of Arthur Rimbaud.
The correspondence taken as a whole presents a passionate relationship realized mostly in letters–letters that were to become essential to Olson’s working out of his poetics. Boldereff’s interventions, which provoked Olson to articulate a projectivist poetics, claims for Frances Boldereff an incalculable effect on twentieth-century poetry.