Every week, the editors of The Paris Review lift the paywall on a selection of interviews, stories, poems, and more from the magazine’s archive. You can have these unlocked pieces delivered straight to your inbox every Sunday by signing up for the Redux newsletter.
This week, we bring you James Merrill’s Art of Poetry interview, in which he explains how he draws inspiration from a Ouija board; “The Plato Club,” a strange feature in which Merrill and David Jackson use a Ouija board to contact Alice B. Toklas, Gertrude Stein, Colette, Jean Genet, and others; and “Totem,” a poem by Eamon Grennan.
If you enjoy these free interviews, stories, and poems, why not subscribe to read the entire archive? You’ll also get four new issues of the quarterly delivered straight to your door.
James Merrill, The Art of Poetry No. 31
Issue no. 84 (Summer 1982)
Does the Ouija board ever manifest maniacal tendencies? Do you ever feel yourself lost in its grip?
Oh, we’ve been scared at times. A friend who sat with us at the board just once went on to have a pretty awful experience with some people out in Detroit. She was told to go west, and to sail on a certain freighter on a certain day, and the name of the island where she’d meet her great-grandmother reincarnated as a Polynesian teenager who would guide her to a mountain cave where in turn an old man . . . and so forth. Luckily she collapsed before she ever made it to California.