Charles Olson Award

April 02, 2019

Applications for the Charles Olson Award are now being accepted.

Purpose of the Endowment

The Charles Olson Endowment Fund was established in 2011 with a generous founding gift from Ralph Maud and matching funds from the English Department. The Charles Olson Endowment Fund supports the Charles Olson Award in English. If, in future, a Centre for Contemporary Literature can be established, the Charles Olson Endowment Fund will be integrated with the Centre.

Charles Olson (1910-1970) was a central figure in Post-World War II American poetics. Well known for extending the free-verse principles posited by Ezra Pound and William Carlos Williams, he also brought his own interests in cosmology, mythology, and community to bear on American Letters. His seminal essay, "Projective Verse," appeared in 1950 and became a key part of the principles guiding the Black Mountain Poets and the Beat Generation. Though scholars traditionally point to Olson's prose as an important contribution to literature, his magnum opus, The Maximus Poems, reveals his full cosmological, mythological and historical vision. There, the discerning reader will access the local fishing history of Gloucester, Massachusetts, the geographical history of the planet, developments in physics and astronomy, or even Mayan myth, just a brief sampling of Olson's extensive references and interests. He died in 1970 at the age of fifty-nine, leaving a major legacy in poetry and prose that continues to fascinate, provoke and bewilder contemporary poetry.

Terms of Reference for the Award

The Charles Olson Award may be awarded, in the first instance, to an individual whose research interests or publication plans involve study of the Charles Olson collection in SFU Library's Special Collections. If, in a given year, there are no suitable proposals within this mandate, income may be directed to publication, acquisitions, readings or other activities, related to the Contemporary Literature Collection at SFU.

Award Value


Adjudication and Administration of the Award

The responsibility for advertising the Award, and for selecting the annual winner will be vested in the Olson Award Committee. The Committee will be made up of four persons: the Chair of the English Department, the English Department's Library Liaison Officer, the Director of the Library's Special Collections, and an English Department Faculty member appointed by the Chair.

Applicants for the Award will provide:

  • a brief proposal outlining the nature of their research on the Charles Olson holdings in the Contemporary Literature Collection; and
  • a cv.

Applications are due May 15th and should be addressed to:

Olson Award Committee
c/o Chair, Department of English
Simon Fraser University
8888 University Drive
Burnaby, BC  V5A 1S6

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