Thursday, August 5, 2010

A Book to Look Forward To

I yanked this info from the Poetry Foundation blog, Harriet. It's a starred review, too, so I'm very much looking forward to reading it. I love poet's letters, but I wonder if any contemporary poets are archiving their emails for posterity. I doubt it, and that's too bad. The interwebs have shortened not only our attention span but our capacity for those long conversations letter-to-letter and closer to the heart than the short coldness of email.
Dear Sandy, Hello: Letters from Ted to Sandy Berrigan, Ted
 Berrigan, edited by Sandy Berrigan and Ron Padgett, Coffee House (Consortium, dist.), $19.95 paper (368p) ISBN 978-1-56689-249-0 


In 1962, poet Ted Berrigan (The Sonnets) was an unknown New York writer. While visiting New Orleans, he eloped with 19-year-old Sandy Alper. Suspecting Ted of drug use, Sandy’s parents “became frightened and irrational” and had her involuntarily committed to a mental ward, although after a few months, Sandy managed to flee with Ted. By 1969 the couple was divorced. This volume vividly preserves their young love through Ted’s letters to Sandy while she was institutionalized--packed with rage, frustration, and thoughts about writing--and Sandy’s responses, reporting on her reading and the little dramas of the mental ward. Seventeen years after Ted’s death, this volume “validate[s] my presence in Ted’s life,” Sandy explains somewhat wistfully. According to Padgett, Ted’s letters reveal “much of the emotional turbulence that helped infuse The Sonnets with such energy and drive.” “It’s time for less warm tears and more cold fury,” writes Ted, transporting the reader to a time when a passionate and impulsive young woman could be committed for behavior contrary to social norms. Even those unfamiliar with Ted’s poetry will be fascinated by the drama inherent in this collection. 20 b&w illus. (Oct.)

1 comment:

  1. I still write my friends hand-written letters with a fountain pen. I take a long time to finish them and treat them like essays. I think we should all do this more. It is good for our souls and is a good way to slow down, show our friends they are worth the time and effort, and create a lasting piece of our thoughts.

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