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Letters & Essays: 1970s

Letters & Essays of the Day

Helen Frankenthaler and James Schuyler: A Correspondence

By James Schuyler, Helen Frankenthaler & Douglas Dreishpoon

In bohemian postwar Manhattan, poets (Frank O’Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch) naturally gravitated to painters (Joan Mitchell, Grace Hartigan, Larry Rivers) whose work they appreciated on its own terms. Certain poets were lauded for their perceptive, unbiased eye; some painters instinctively sensed a resonant poem. Painter Helen Frankenthaler and poet James Schuyler had such a mutual appreciation. Their run-in during the 1954 Venice Biennale was memorable enough to open Schuyler’s poem “Torcello” (they must have met previously to have recognized each other, though it is unclear when). In any case, they kept circling: Schuyler reviewed Frankenthaler’s shows at the Tibor de Nagy Gallery in 1957 and at the André Emmerich Gallery in 1960.

Neruda vs. Sartre at the Sea

By Helen Barolini

They tell of certain years in the Italian literary-prize business as the French would speak of a good or bad vintage year: the giddy splendors of 1965 prize-feting and fighting, the multiple crises of ’68 culminating in the sad death of Nobel poet Salvatore Quasimodo while presiding at some minor poetry prize event at Amalfi, and the year Moravia, out of pique or paradox, went out to found his own prize, giving the first award to his ex-wife in lieu (it’s said) of support payments.