Erwin Tiongson’s Slate article (11 Dec. 2019), “The Most Famous Photograph of Poets Ever Taken,” features a 1948 photo published in Life Magazine. Although H.D. was not part of this group and indeed was convalescing in Switzerland at the time, the image features many members of her literary and personal circles.
Nearly all of the 16 poets featured in the image contributed to Life and Letters Today, the magazine owned by Bryher from 1935-1950. The magazine was edited by Robert Herring, but correspondence between Herring and H.D. shows that she made hands-on, substantive contributions both to the content of the magazine and to the scope of contributors.
Of the poets pictured, the following were all Life and Letters Today contributors: Horace Gregory, Marya Zaturenska, Edith and Osbert Sitwell, Richard Eberhart, Charles Henri Ford, W.H. Auden, Elizabeth Bishop, Marianne Moore, and Delmore Schwartz. Most of the rest were one degree of separation from those contributors.
The University Press of Florida has just published Lara Vetter’s new book, A Curious Peril: H.D.’s Late Modernist Prose. The monograph offers readings of a range of H.D.’s post-World War II writing: The Sword Went Out to Sea, By Avon River, White Rose and the Red, The Mystery, Magic Mirror, Compassionate Friendship, and End to Torment, with briefer discussion of Thorn Thicket, the Hirslanden Notebooks, and, from earlier in H.D.’s career, The Moment and Palimpsest. It also includes a chronology of H.D.’s writing from this period and an appendix mapping works that H.D. owned or read that inform Vetter’s discussion.
H.D.’s archival records include correspondence from 213 individual correspondents, ranging from family and childhood friends to the central writers and editors of literary modernism.
By mapping the inter-relationships among these correspondents, we can retrace the shape of Modernist networks that are often female-centered, America-centered, and familial.
Correspondents are sorted in nodes based upon the people who introduced H.D. to members of the wider network. Major nodes are anchored by Frances Gregg Wilkinson, Ezra Pound, Richard Aldington, Bryher, Edith Sitwell, Sylvia Dobson, and Norman Holmes Pearson.
PoetryTheatre offers a dramatic recitation of H.D.’s “Sheltered Garden,” which just happens to be my favorite poem from Sea Garden. Show this alongside “Helen” or “Sea Rose” when teaching H.D. out of limited anthologies, and watch the students’ readings open up in delightful directions.
Listen to the introduction and first song of the Transatlantic Welsh Concert performed by Paul Robeson in 1957 after his passport was revoked and he was unable to travel to the UK. The clip on YouTube includes the introduction to the concert by Will Paynter, president of the South Wales Miners, as well as Paul Robeson’s comments and “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel.” The SAIN Wales label includes a biography of Robeson through a Welsh lens as well as a downloadable copy of Robeson’s complete Transatlantic Exchange Concerts.
Brianna Harris’s YouTube site notes that she uses this montage of Borderline scenes when she teaches the film at Hampshire College. She writes, “I used the footage from the silent film “Borderline 1930″ to emphasize the themes of relationships, affairs, and racism vs. romance. You also see themes of gender roles and betrayal, truth, shame, and murder.” The contemporary soundtrack adds emphasis to those themes as well. This montage is great for those wishing to teach the film without showing the whole film in class as well as for anyone wishing to contrast the experience of the 1930 silent film with contemporary film viewing practice.