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2004 Writers' Forum
John Olson

John Olson is the author of Free Stream Velocity (2003), a collection of prose poems, and Echo Regime (2000) a collection of poetry, both from Black Square Editions; Eggs & Mirrors (1999), a chapbook of vignettes & prose poems published by local printer Paul Hunter, at Woodworks Press; and Logo Lagoon (1999), a collection of prose poems, from Paper Brain Press in San Diego. His essays, articles, literary criticism, poetry and short stories have appeared in numerous journals, including New American Writing, Talisman, Sulfur, First Intensity, American Letters & Commentary, the American Book Review, Denver Quarterly, 3rd Bed, 5 Trope, Bird Dog, Monkey Puzzle, The Raven Chronicles, the Seattle Weekly, and The Stranger. "Dylan Goes Magenta," an essay on Bob Dylan's Tarantula, appears online at Titanic Operas. His essay "Inebriate Of Air" appears in the anthology Writing On Air, from M.I.T. Press.
photo credit:
dean wong
Listen to an excerpt of John's reading (MP3)
2:43 / 1.6 MB
Conversation with Curator Belle Randall
In this interview, recorded March 5, 2004, John and Belle discuss form, science, the avant-garde, language poetry, performance, writing as propaganda, and more.
Sweet Fever

Publishers don't like poetry. It's too weird. It's too difficult. The public doesn't buy it. It doesn't sell like Stephen King. It doesn't sell like John Grisham. It doesn't sell like Hillary Clinton. It doesn't sell like Bill O'Reilly. It crackles with facts. But the facts are slippery. The facts are vast. The facts are small and thin and fleeting and incidental. The facts are bald and metal and jingle like rhymes. The facts are dimes. The facts are quarters. Quarters and quarks and quirks and quartz. Quarters with Liberty on them. Nickels and lint and fifty-two cents. It is sometimes pleasant to strain toward correlation. When the escalators resume operation we'll invent a new category for balconies. The bigger balconies will be housed on a peninsula near Aldebaran. The abalone balconies will be housed in Switzerland. I have never been to Switzerland but I firmly believe it is possible to imagine Switzerland as Switzerland is Switzerland and not Tahiti. There is a plot of dirt we can shovel into imagery. Let us plant lettuce. Let us rub rubber. Let us all turn sweet and bubble with nouns and consonants. Let us all look serious about doing something. Let us all look intent on making something. Like Pablo Picasso. Like Emily Dickinson. Like Chuck Berry eyeball to eyeball with Keith Richards. The telephone rings. It's a credit card company. Tell them to send us a credit card immersed in leeway. Let's order a box of cogs and build a cognition and move it around with tongs. Or tongues. Or tom-toms. Or tokens. Or tonsils. Tornados and trout. Translucence and trowels. Transcendence and tops. Tarpaulin and tone. Tone is where the moods unlock. Tone is the hum of five hundred volts. Tone is the bone of the button of being. Tone is the timber of timbre and the pi of the punch of topaz. Sympathy density wax. It is the summer of our discombobulation. It is the sparkle of consonants stiffened and still and heavier than air. Ad-libs and egrets. Women's apparel and a few exuberant pesos of blown glass. Is there really such a thing as loose change? The recession makes it all seem pertinent. Language is to consciousness what seasoning is to soup. Waiter, there's a cerebellum in my vocabulary. I feel engorged with prognostication. There is a paste of the past called memory and a glue of the future called reach. Movement sternum and suede. Nothing is given. Everything is made.
To read more work from the 2004 Jack Straw Writers Program, contact Jack Straw Productions to purchase a copy of Volume 8 of The Jack Straw Writers Anthology.

Jump to John Olson's Interview with 2004 Curator Belle Randall
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