Sunday, 28 June 2015

James Schuyler

Paul Hoover regarded James Schuyler as “one of the most accomplished and insightful of the New York School poets”. A judgement which is adequately reflected in his 1980 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry award for his 1980 collection The Morning of the Poem.

Schuyler’s New York life, closely connected to other poets like Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery and a variety of visual artists such as Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Jane Freilicher, Larry Rivers, and Fairfield Porter gives the impression of a true urban, bohemian soul – he even lived in the Chelsea Hotel for a period of time. But as Hoover puts it: “Paradoxically [he is] one of the finest nature poets in contemporary American poetry.” His attention to the little, overlooked details and his “accurate ear for the cadences of speech and the rhythms of consciousness” (David Lehman) give his poetry something that transcends the urban surroundings they might originate from.

I highly recommend having a look around the resources on EPC and PennSound. It’s great stuff!

My own response takes inspiration from Schuyler’s “Letter To A Friend: Who Is Nancy Daum?” – but then I guess it goes a bit of a different route after the first line or two…


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Letter to a digital jay (Who is JW?)
Remembering James Schuyler

All things real
no one just virtual
the violent pounding in my guts
wringing the sense of inside me
pulling me partially somewhere small
drowning the words
the tarnished safeness of inter
face flatness cracked shocked 
deep into security reset
halting setting curling off-focus stills
the doubt of every single syllable
floundering midsentence in pools
of black ink backspacing pages
the blushing shame utterly utterly
beating stuck in shrinking lungs
the hesitation
the helpless anger
the w.t.f. me of all people with
no harm to anyone
just words just words just
the misunderstood grope of ex
perimentation in the dark inside
as these solemn honour guards
with blazing torches my only
in the age of AA batteries
and usb leads 
just this a web
log of process
of mid air reckless that’s all
I am sure you understand

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