GAVIN SELERIE: Jumping the Limits: The Interaction of Art Forms at Black Mountain & Beyond.

Jumping the Limits: the interaction of art forms at Black Mountain & beyond, including UK practice.


Fielding Dawson says Black Mountain “had no sides (literally). It was wide open in the mountain.”[1] This is a useful reminder that physical space can influence or determine thought. It was significant that the kinds of exploration associated with the college occurred far from recognized centres of learning. You could call it the permission of outlaws, and Ed Dorn, a son of the Prairie, perhaps brings this to fruition with the cinematic-linguistic slides of Gunslinger.

On the other hand, no space is definitive, and a key aspect of the Black Mountain community was its willingness to bring people in to work on projects for a limited period. The corollary of this is that skills or modes of inquiry were susceptible of translation to other spheres. Geographically, the dispersal, both before and after the closure of the college, was significant, allowing Bauhaus and related approaches to be taken up in other parts of North America, and finally circulated back to Europe. New York City had a particular cluster of Black Mountain-affiliated artists and San Francisco also, but the small community or individually focused endeavour could happen anywhere. Charles Olson returned to Gloucester but kept ideas afloat through correspondence, appearances in Berkeley, Vancouver and London, and via his two-year teaching stint at Buffalo.

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Gavin Selerie was born in London, where he still lives. His books include Azimuth (1984), Roxy (1996), Le Fanu’s Ghost (2006) and Hariot Double (2016)—all long sequences with linked units. These texts often have a visual dimension and Selerie has collaborated extensively with artist-poet Alan Halsey; he has also worked with musicians in performance. Music’s Duel: New and Selected Poems 1972-2008 was published by Shearsman in 2009. Critical work includes studies of Charles Olson and Edward Dorn. Selerie’s memoir of the London poetry scene 1970-1989 appeared in Clasp, ed. Robert Hampson & Ken Edwards (2016).

[99] ibid., 57.


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