[lit-ideas] Re: American poetic scene at the beginning of 72

  • From: Robert Paul <rpaul@xxxxxxxx>
  • To: lit-ideas@xxxxxxxxxxxxx
  • Date: Wed, 11 Oct 2006 13:34:12 -0700

Lawrence wrote:

> it was commonly believed among poets, painters, and novelists that drinking
> enhanced one's talent.  One could more readily reach one's muse under the
> influence.

Hart Crane comes immediately to mind. There's a good discussion of
Crane and his place in American letters, including some vignettes of his
encounters with his drunken muse, in a discussion of his work on the occasion
of his being given a volume of the Library of America.


'Crane was almost unique in preferring to write while he was actually drunk.
Malcolm Cowley, in ?Exile?s Return,? his memoir of New York and Paris in
the nineteen-twenties, recalled the way Crane would slip away from a
bacchanalian party to write verse:

'Gradually he would fall silent, and a little later he disappeared. In lulls
that began to interrupt the laughter, now Hart was gone, we would hear a new
hubbub through the walls of his room--the phonograph playing a Cuban rumba, the
typewriter clacking simultaneously; then the phonograph would run down and the
typewriter stop while Hart changed the record, perhaps to a torch song, perhaps
to Ravel's ?Bolero.?. . . An hour later . . . he would appear in the kitchen
or on the croquet court, his face brick-red, his eyes burning, his already
iron-gray hair bristling straight up from his skull. . . . In his hands would
be two or three sheets of typewritten manuscript, with words crossed out and
new lines scrawled in. ?R-read that,? he would say. ?Isn't that the
grreatest poem ever written?? '

Robert Paul
The Reed Institute

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