The Black Mountain poets or projectivist poets

The Black Mountain poets, sometimes called projectivist poets, were a group of mid-20th-century American avant-garde or postmodern poets centered on  Black Mountain College in North Carolina, USA.

In the early 1950s, the college became a center for ‘poetics’ and also for a ‘school’ of poets. Charles Olson, Rector of the college from 1951 to 1956, encouraged a new approach to writing poetry. In 1950 Olson published Projective Verse, a statement of aims of Black Mountain poetics: anti-academic, anti-intellectual, anti-traditional; pro-spontaneity, and pro the dynamism that may derive from using breathing exercises. Robert Creeley and Robert Duncan have been among the more celebrated poets in this ‘school’. The quality of the work produced by the Black Mountain poets has been variable. It may be assessed in the magazine Origin (1951–6) and in the Black Mountain Review (1954-7).

In addition to Olson, the poets most closely associated with Black Mountain include Robert Duncan,Ed Dorn, Paul Blackburn, Denise Levertov, Jonathan Williams and Robert Creeley.

Apart from their strong interconnections with the Beats, the Black Mountain poets influenced the course of later American poetry via their importance for the poets later identified with the Language school.

Also read: Beat Generation: Characteristics and famous writers