“The Most Famous Photograph of Poets Ever Taken”

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.

Photo portrait of 16 poets, taken in 1948. The poets are arrayed in a group in front of the bookshelves of the Gotham Book Mart. Source: Slate Magazine.
Lisa Larsen/The Life Images Collection via Getty Images. Image links to the Slate Magazine article, “The Most Famous Photograph of Poets Ever Taken”

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.

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