Deluxe illustrated edition; also available as standard paperback edition.
Edited and with an introduction by Ben Mazer.
Born into a wealthy Boston banking family, the nephew of J. P. Morgan, Harry Crosby was the very embodiment of flaming youth in the Roaring Twenties. A recipient of the Croix de Guerre for heroism in the American Ambulance Corps in World War One, he sustained trauma that fueled his extravagant and restlessly experimental expatriate lifestyle with his wife Caresse in Paris, before taking his life and that of his mistress in a notorious double suicide in a New York City hotel room in 1929. The Crosbys’ Black Sun Press was famed for its elegantly designed limited editions, publishing first editions of important works of modernism, including Hart Crane’s The Bridge, and the first excerpts of Joyce’s Work-In-Progress to appear in book form. Crosby’s own poetry has been little seen since its original publication in books by the Black Sun Press, the last of which appeared in 1931. Now acclaimed editor and poet Ben Mazer has brought together all of Crosby’s contemporary magazine and anthology appearances, as well as drawing on poems from five of Crosby’s collections, to present the first authorized edition of Crosby’s poems to appear in book form since 1931.
Praise for Harry Crosby’s work:
“Harry has a great, great gift. He has a wonderful gift of carelessness.”
—Ernest Hemingway to Archibald MacLeish
“It is a glimpse of chaos not reduced to order. But the chaos alive, not the chaos of matter. A glimpse of the living, untamed chaos.”
—DH Lawrence on Harry Crosby’s poetry
“Of course one can ‘go too far’ and except in directions in which we can go too far there is no interest in going at all; and only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out just how far one can go. Not to go far enough is to remain ‘in the vague’ as surely and less creditably than to exceed. Indeed, the mentors of pseudo-classicism should consistently content themselves with agnosticism, or at most with the simple faith of Islam; for no extravagance of a genuine poet can go so far over the borderline of ordinary intellect as the Creeds of the Church. And the poet who fears to take the risk that what he writes may turn out not to be poetry at all, is a man who has surely failed, who ought to have adopted some less adventurous vocation.”
—T. S. Eliot, in the preface to Transit of Venus
“I think you have got hold of something valuable in Transit of Venus
… you hit upon a kind of true brevity in these and other poems. And that brevity is signed with your name ... I think you have learned the smell of your own flesh. I think you should be satisfied …”
—Archibald MacLeish in a letter to Harry Crosby
“I never met anyone who was so imbued with literature; he was drowned in it.”
“Your particular politics of existence, being so much more consistent—and without complaint—than most, could save at least a generation from despair.”
—Kay Ryan in a letter to Crosby
“To us, the difficulty with the sonnet seems that the questions invited are such that it is hardly surprising no answer is given. And if we may put our own question, is the rhyme of the last line of ‘Study for a Soul’ permissible?”
in a rejection letter to Crosby
“… undoubtedly one of the most beautiful, and at the same time seethingly denunciatory voices of the time… Crosby was another Rimbaud, but a more engaging literary personality.”
—Norman MacLeod, Morada
“… a rare and delicate spirit, his clear eyes unblinded by wealth, his Muse untarnished by the fool’s gold of commercialism, we shall not look on his like again …”
—Jack Conroy, The Rebel Poet
“… to be living now, to be living, alive and full of the thing, to believe in the sun, the moon or the stars; or whatever is your belief, and to write of these things with an alertness sharp as a blade and as relentless, is a challenge that is the solemn privilege of the young. In any generation there are but few grave enough to acknowledge this responsibility. In ours Harry Crosby stands singularly alone …”
—Kay Boyle in transition
“Living near Harry Crosby was like the experience of an equatorial springtime, when the tyrant Sun, lord of life and death, strikes dazzling down, summoning from the four horizons storm-clouds and thunder and cyclone, when the scorched soil quakes and crumbles and life is fevered almost to frenzy, in strained expectancy of the monsoon.”
by Harry Crosby
$23.95, paperback, 210 pp.