Monday, September 12, 2016

James Schuyler’s Letters

Just the Thing (review)
Selected Letters of James Schuyler, 1951 – 1991

It’s hard to get into a book of letters. I started and then began to skip around—then it hit me: Oh, this is when Frank died, or Jimmy went on vacation with the Koch’s in August, or he just won a Pulitzer for Morning of the Poem, and then the letters began to take on some context. I began to use the dates and places and reference them to a New York School of Poets timeline—wish the editor had done a little of this for us.

Nevertheless, it is rich, rich and brimming with names and nuances. You really begin to see the amount of collaboration that went on in this fairly broad group of friends. Imagine if you were able to approach your genre, let’s say poetry, through the eyes of a painter—or your sculptor friend gives you feedback. The cross-pollination between dance, fashion, music, writers of all genres is incredible and RICH. These people wrote together, slept together, drank, summered, and gossiped together. They drove each other crazy and fell apart, together.

Where in the world and which period of time works as a parallel?

And the discussions centered around the arts (not entirely, but in the letters let me point out): movies, books, art openings!

How lucky, how fortunate. Did they ever realize that what they had was rare, could not be duplicated?

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