Friday 17 August 2007

Adam Kirsch reflects on Robert Lowell's last days and final book

"Thirty years ago, on September 12, 1977, Robert Lowell died of a heart attack in the back of a taxicab, on his way home to the Upper West Side from Kennedy Airport. Lowell was just 60 years old when he died, but he had already outlived most of the poets of his brilliant, afflicted generation. Delmore Schwartz, his onetime roommate, died in 1966, a paranoid recluse in a Times Square flophouse; John Berryman, his close friend and rival, committed suicide in 1972 by jumping off a bridge in Minneapolis; Randall Jarrell, his college roommate, was hit by a car in 1965, also probably a suicide; Sylvia Plath, whom he had taught at Boston University, killed herself in London in 1963. As this list shows, Lowell stood at the center of his generation in a personal as well as a literary sense. It was not just that he was the most talented poet of his time, and the most famous. For three decades, he was poetry's epicenter, and the violent tremors that radiated out from his life and work reshaped the whole landscape of American verse.
Read the rest in The New York Sun.

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