When the Gloucester poet Charles Olson died in early January of 1970, he left behind a monumental pile of manuscripts, personal papers, photographs, ephemera,, and other possessions. While his manuscripts carry his distinctive handwriting, the apartment itself at 28 Fort Square in Gloucester, Massachusetts, displays traces of his personal markings. Surrounding the windows that overlooked the harbor, Olson recorded meteorological data: daily and sometimes hourly temperature readings, wind speeds, precipitation amounts, and notes such as “second time harbor frozen this winter.” George Butterick, curator and editor of the Olson papers at the University of Connecticut, photographically recorded these window scribbles a few months after Olson’s death. The photographs have been studied by various literary scholars but have never been published as a set before. The current publication brings together all of the Butterick photographs of the window casings along with a digital reconstruction of the windows based on the images. Because Olson wrote so many of the Maximus poems while living in the Fort Square apartment and wandering about Gloucester, it seemed appropriate to include a number of facsimile pages of his poems in various stages of completion. Additional images of both the exterior and interior of the apartment were recorded by Butterick, giving us a glimpse into Olson’s environment at the time he was working on his celebrated Maximus Poems.
© 2023 Rutherford Witthus