Field theory, breathing and projectile verse

The other day, while dusting my shelf, I came across Charles Olson’s Selected Writings and started rereading his essay (if it can be called that) on what he thought poetry should be like.

I’m not very good at remembering abstract details, but I recall a few of his keywords, such as field, breath and projective.

Once again I feel compelled to illustrate theory to myself by practice, i.e. by living it.

The following poem practices everything Olson mentions.

Three Breathy Fields


It is an open field, unhindered by obstacles.

Not even a cow projects from it.

(Actually, I should remove the periods at the ends of the lines to achieve openness, and it surely won't hurt to move the subfields or breath units about a bit)

It is an open field, unhindered by obstacles

Not even a cow projects from it


Here I practice breathing. Everything I write should be spoken in one breath. It should be spoken without breathlessness, however. Since that’s a double negative, I’ll put it positively: It should be spoken with breathness. Still with me in the same breath?


Is like Neil Young’s field of opportunity, where "it’s ploughing time again"


This field is left open for your convenience, to plough things in, under or over. Fill it with breath, openness, projectiles, whatever. But remember not to damage the screen in front of you.

This ends today’s occupation with Charles Olson’s projective field and breath theory. Perhaps I shall return for another lesson soon. Await it with baited breath.

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