Showing posts with label neglectorinos. Show all posts
Showing posts with label neglectorinos. Show all posts

Sunday, April 13, 2014

Trinity College 1970:
Simon Schucat, Eric Torgersen, Michael Lally standing (l-r)
Steve Shrader (circled), Raymond diPalma, Paula Novatnak sitting (l-r)
Dick Paterson (back of head, on ground in front)


Tuesday, June 21, 2011

Merrill Moore, neglectorino

From Hawai’i, Jonathan Morse writes:

The rediscovery of Vivian Meier reminds me that there may be another trove of photographs waiting for somebody (somebody associated with Harvard, I'd guess) to find and discuss. This would be the archive of Merrill Moore (1903-1957).

In the 1920s, Moore was one of a group of remarkable student poets who gathered around the Vanderbilt University English professor John Crowe Ransom and published their work in a magazine called The Fugitive. The Fugitive Group underwent two more metamorphoses after that era: first into a group of right-wing anti-capitalists who called themselves the Southern Agrarians, then into the literary theorists called the New Critics. In English departments, the most enduringly famous members of the group are Ransom himself and his students Allen Tate and Robert Penn Warren.

Not Moore, however. As the mentor of the Fugitives, Ransom gathered his students for regular revising sessions, but Moore just flat wouldn't revise. His reason for that was amazing enough:he was arguably the most facile poet in the history of the English language, and rather than bring one revised poem to the weekly meetings he'd bring fifty brand new ones. With only a few exceptions, all of his poems were sonnets, and he composed those as fast as he was physically able to write the words down. In fact, he learned shorthand so that he could physically write the words down even faster. That's why one of his volumes of sonnets (one of many) is called just M
M for Merrill, M for Moore, and M for a thousand. Yes, that one fat book does contain a thousand sonnets -- that is, 1000 x 14 lines, or a body of verse longer than Paradise Lost and Paradise Regained put together. I flipped through it once, and I found quite a few good lines. But (as you might expect) so far as I was able to see on that one fast scan, there are no good poems.* So nobody reads Moore now.

But his major at Vanderbilt was pre-med, and in due time he became a psychiatrist who practiced at hospitals associated with Harvard. It's as a psychiatrist that he's remembered now to American literary history, because in that capacity he figured in the lives of several other poets. He kept Edwin Arlington Robinson's depression and alcoholism under control, counseled the Harvard sophomore Robert Lowell to transfer to Kenyon College and study with Allen Tate, and failed to prevent Robert Frost's suicidal son from killing himself but did save Frost's own life by calling the ambulance when Frost was suffering a toxic reaction to some medicine. During that period, too, some of his sonnets were illustrated by Edward Gorey, who was then an unknown Harvard undergraduate.

He was also a prolific publisher of research papers dealing with alcoholism, and a champion marathon swimmer. And you see he didn't even live long (cancer).

And yes, he also was a photographer. Nobody knows how many sonnets he wrote, but his own estimate was 50,000. That was also his estimate of the number of photographs he took. But I've never seen one, and I don't know anybody who has.



* One possible exception to my complaint about no good poems by Moore is the sonnet I was able to memorize from start to finish in a single fast reading. It's a psychiatrist's sonnet, and it goes:

You'll be all right, you'll be all right, you'll be
All right, you'll be all right, you'll be all right,
You'll be all right, you'll be all right, you'll be --

etc. for eleven more lines.

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Ben Friedlander, Kevin Killian (visible in doorway), Dan Davidson

Daniel Davidson’s
What Kind is This?”

As the jacket for Dan Davidson’s Culture says,

Daniel Davidson (1952-1996) came to writing late, emerging from punk music in the late 1980s as a poet of singular talent and originality.

Dan Davidson was, not unlike Jerry Estrin or Kathy Acker, a constant & important presence in the poetry scene of the San Francisco Bay Area in the 1980s & early ‘90s who died right at the moment when the internet was starting to transform the roles of geography & immanence in the world of poetry (like so much else). For those who knew him, he was a crucial, defining writer whose work was never that far from our consciousness in whatever projects we took on. But those who did not know him may never even have heard of him.

Culture was Davidson's own title for his "collected books." The posthumous Krupskaya edition contains four of those books – Product; Bureaucrat, My Love; Image; & Anomie. It is available through SPD. Three other booksAn Account; Transit; & Desire – are available gratis as a PDF from Krupskaya, also under the general title Culture.

Right before his death, Dan completed a booklength collaboration with Tom Mandel, Absence Sensorium, which George Lakoff frames as follows:

Tom Mandel and Daniel Davidson have done what two poets are not supposed to be able to do: they have jointly written a great long poem that is seamless, where you cannot tell where one leaves off and the other takes up. The whole is much more than the sum of the parts.

While Absence Sensorium remains in the SPD catalog, they have no copies. I don’t know if any cartons are hiding back in the vast Potes & Poets warehouses in Connecticut, but I rather suspect not. If you want one, you will have to use, which locates a few at widely varying prices in the stocks of used & rare booksellers.

I know of only one other book by Davidson not included among the above, a December 1990 chapbook that he self-published in an edition of 45 as a New Year’s gift to his friends, Notes From IMAGE. The work there is quite different from that gathered in the Zasterle Press edition of Image published in 1992 (and republished in Culture).

Recently Tom Mandel found Dan’s recording of “What Kind is This?” produced in 1980, back when he was still a musician & had not yet begun writing for production, so to speak. I believe it is Dan’s song, and that is him on vocals & guitar. I can’t get it out of my head.