Archives For letters

The Best Beat Generation Letter Collections

The writers of the Beat Generation were not just great at composing poems or producing genre-smashing novels. They were also voluminous letter-writers, corresponding over vast distances by mail. They shared ideas, gave details of their lives and thoughts, and even experimented with writing styles through the act of writing these letters. Some, like the Joan Anderson Letter, were of incalculable significance. Thankfully, they were often careful enough to save their letters, knowing that some day in the future these might be of importance. Eventually, as telephone calls became cheaper, the letters dried up. However, during the heyday of the Beat Generation, they correspondence was frequent and often stretched into thousands of magnificent words.  Continue Reading…

Letters: Allen and Louis

“There are many mansions in the house of poetry,” i writes Louis “Paterson’s principal poet” ii to Allen, many times.
Allen, maintain your posture when you meet Edith, sit well with Sitwell.
Don’t be maudlin when you chat with Auden . . . at Oxford.
Spring has sprung; the thaw has come to Robert Frost (at Paterson State Teachers’ College). iii
What’s a father to do? “I keep pounding my typewriter, not wishing to rust on my laurels, and now and then have poems punished in the papers and magazines.” iv
Louis, Father Polonius, “I can mend the hardening of my platitudes and prevent the shrinking of my latitudes.” v
And the bearded bard sayeth, “The only poetic tradition is the voice out of the Burning Bush.” vi
“Keep writing.”
“Keep writing.”
“Keep writing.”
“Keep writing.”
“Keep writing.” vii

i Ginsberg, Allen and Louis. Family Business: Selected Letters Between a Father and Son. Ed. Michael Schumacher. (New York: Bloomsbury, 2001), p. 53.
ii Ibid., p. xxiii.
iii Ibid., p. 108.
iv Ibid., p. 156.
v Ibid., p. 101.
vi Ibid., p. 155.
vii Ibid., p. 162.