Title and discipline: associate professor,
Office location: Old Main 352
Areas of specialization: modern poetry;
post-colonial literature; exile and immigration; Russian literature.
Jamie Olson has taught in the English department at Saint
Martin's since 2008, when he moved to the Olympia area from Ann
Arbor, Michigan, after completing his Ph.D. in English at the
University of Michigan. He is a scholar and translator of poetry,
film buff, decent cook, and lifelong runner. He lives on the west
side of Olympia with his wife and daughter.
A native of Duluth, Minnesota, Jamie served in the U.S.
Marines for six years right out of high school, working as an
Arabic cryptolinguist and spending much of his time in the
Middle East or aboard Navy ships. After his discharge from the
Marine Corps, he recognized his passion for literature, tossed
aside his pre-med plans, and set to work on an English major at
the College of Saint Scholastica, a Benedictine institution in
Minnesota. During his first semester of college, Jamie was
bitten by the Russian bug, a circumstance that led to years of
blissful travel and split identity, not to mention a Russian
minor in college and Slavic graduate coursework alongside his
At Saint Martin's, Jamie teaches first-year writing,
introductory courses in poetry and fiction, modern poetry, world
literature, ethnic literature, and Russian literature in
translation. From time to time, he also leads a section of
First-Year Seminar (UNI 101), and he is the founding faculty
member of the
Oikos Residential Learning Community. His teaching and
research interests include the following:
- 20th- and 21st- century poetry
- Anglophone colonial and post-colonial
- Russian literature, language, and culture
- Translation and translation studies
- American literature, culture, and film
- Exile, diasporas, and immigration
Jamie is a member of several professional organizations,
including the American
Literary Translators Association, the
Modern Language Association,
American Comparative Literature
Association, and the
Network. He regularly attends ALTA's annual conference and
sometimes reads his translations during OPN's monthly gatherings
at Traditions Fair Trade Café.
Besides teaching English courses, Jamie has
served on the faculty senate and several other
committees at Saint Martin's, and he is the faculty
advisor for the Veterans Club and
Delta, the international English honor society.
He has directed senior thesis projects by English
majors on Gerard Manley Hopkins, Allen Ginsberg,
James Joyce, Colm Tóibín, and Ivan Turgenev, among
other authors. He has also organized a number of
film series on campus that took up such themes as
empire, religious faith, and immigration.
In 2010 and 2012, Jamie led five-week study tours
to Petrozavodsk, Russia, where SMU students studied
Russian language and culture, and he plans to
continue organizing trips to Russia every two years.
He recently taught the very first Russian-language
class ever offered at Saint Martin's, and he hopes
to continue teaching that class in coming years. In
the summer of 2011, he arranged a weeklong stay at
SMU for a group of Russian students and faculty from
the Karelian State Pedagogical Academy who came to
campus to study Native American Culture, identity,
During his graduate studies at the University of
Michigan, Jamie specialized in modern and
contemporary poetry, and he wrote his dissertation,
Rooted Cosmopolitanism in the Poetry of Seamus
Heaney, Derek Walcott, and Joseph Brodsky,
under the direction of two important scholars of
modern poetry, George Bornstein and Laurence
Goldstein. Jamie has recently been drafting several
articles on postwar poetry that have developed out
of his dissertation research and teaching
experience. In addition to his scholarship on
poetry, he translates Russian literary texts into
English, with past projects including fiction by
Dmitry Manin-Sibiryak and poems by Vyacheslav
Kiktenko and Irina Yevsa. Currently, he is hard at
work on a book-length translation of Timur Kibirov's
playful, post-modernist collection of Greek and
Roman Catholic Songs and Nursery Rhymes, 1986-2009.
In 2010, Jamie started a blog on translation and
Wave, which has proven to be a surprisingly
fulfilling project and effective networking tool.
These days, for better or for worse, professional
lives unfold as much online as they do anywhere
else, and Jamie embraces that social and
- Review of Andrei Gelasimov's Thirst, translated by
Marian Schwartz (novel).
Translation Review 84 (Winter 2012). The University of
Texas at Dallas. Print.
Poetics of Uselessness." Review of Into the Snow: The
Selected Poems of Gennady Aygi, translated by Sarah
Berfrois: Intellectual Jousting in the Republic of Letters
(June 20, 2012). Web.
Translations of three Russian poems by Ukrainian poet Irina
Anomalous Press 5 (Spring 2012). Boston. Web.
- Translation of "Fairy Tale about How There Once Was a Fly
Who Outlived the Others." Russian children's story by Dmitry
Chtenia 4.4 (Fall 2011): 27-36. Montpelier, Vermont.
- Translations of
five Russian poems by Timur Kibirov. Cardinal Points
12.4. New York. Print and web.
[Forthcoming in print; published on web site in February
Kibirov: Faithful or Skeptic?" Essay on poetry and
Cardinal Points 12.4. New York. Print and web.
[Forthcoming in print; published on web site in February 2011]
Translations of two Russian poems by Vyacheslav Kiktenko.
Ozone Park Journal (Fall 2010). Queens College (CUNY),
New York. Web.
- "To Russia and Back Again." Insights: News for Alumni
and Friends (Fall 2010): 14-15. Saint Martin's University.
Lacey, Washington. Print.
- The Flaxen
Wave: On Poetry, Translation, and Russian Culture.
Blog. Jamie L. Olson, May 2010-present. Web.
- "World Culture in American Poetry: A Dialogue between Derek
Walcott and Joseph Brodsky." USA:
Language, Society, Culture: Proceedings of the International
Conference. Petrozavodsk: KSPA Press, 2009. 125-28. Print.
Translating Russian Poetry (and Kiktenko in Particular)."
Crab Creek Review Blog. The Writer's Notebook. Crab Creek
Review, 30 Dec. 2010. Web.
- Translations of three Russian poems by Vyacheslav Kiktenko.
Crab Creek Review 22.2 (Summer 2009): 80-85. Seattle,
Education: B.A., The College of Saint
Scholastica; M.A., University of Michigan; Ph.D., ibid.