POETS Day! Wallace Stevens

[This entry is cross posted at ordinary-times.com]


When most people think of a poet, what one looks like as they go about their business, they probably think of someone Byronic leaning over a battered wooden table, scribbling mid inhale on a loose sheet of paper, fingers inkpot stained, a girdle-tight vest over whatever style puffy shirt the modern mind thinks was always in vogue before mass produced mirrors, a vee of dark curls fopping over the upstage eye like a bunch of wine grapes, the interior of the tent improbably well lit by a single candle, and the air still redolent of gun smoke from day’s battle for Greek independence. Poets may not be of the Romantic school, but we think they should look like they are.

At a favorite holiday spot in Key West, he got into a voluble argument with Robert Frost on at least two different occasions, and once he slugged the man he considered the anti-poetic devil. Per Stevens biographer Paul Mariani, “So it began, with Stevens swinging at the bespectacled [Ernest] Hemingway, who seemed to weave like a shark, and Papa hitting him one-two and Stevens going down ‘spectacularly,’ as Hemingway would remember it, into a puddle of fresh rainwater.” He did manage to land at least one blow, apparently breaking his hand on Hemingway’s jaw.

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