The American Reader

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Masthead + Editor-in-Chief: Uzoamaka Maduka Executive Editor: Jac Mullen Deputy Editor: Alyssa Loh Managing Editor: Lauren Leigh Senior Editors: Elianna Kan, Jonathon Kyle Sturgeon Fiction Editor: Ben Marcus Assistant Fiction Editor: Andrew Eisenman Interim Poetry Editor: Jeff Dolven Regional Editor: Dean Young Contributing Editors: Jeff Dolven, A.S. Hamrah Editors-at-Large: Stephanie LaCava, Alexandra Sage FC Mehta Creative Consultant: Shala Monroque Art Director/Web Designer: Cindy Ho Director of Publicity: Arielle Patrick Editorial Advisors: Serguei Oushakine, Elaine Pagels, Marian Schwartz Special thanks to Milton Curry, David Bellos, Caryl Emerson, and the Center for Writers and Translators at AUP.

30 April (1963): Rachel Carson writes to her friend, neighbor, and possible romantic partner, Dorothy Freeman. She descr...
04/30/2015
30 April (1963): Rachel Carson to Dorothy Freeman | The American Reader

30 April (1963): Rachel Carson writes to her friend, neighbor, and possible romantic partner, Dorothy Freeman. She describes a feeling of imminent death, and so pens this letter as a sort of good-bye. Though Carson was suffering from cancer at the time, she would not die until April of the following year. This letter, found among Carson’s possessions, was delivered to Freeman after Carson’s death.

"I have wanted so terribly to have you here. I’ve been afraid you wouldn’t come if you know how ill I feel, for you seem to think your being here would make it harder for me, while of course it is just the reverse. And of course I’ve felt this might be the last time I’d see you..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/30-april-1963-rachel-carson-to-dorothy-freeman/

30 April (1963): Rachel Carson to Dorothy Freeman Tweet Here, Rachel Carson writes to her friend, neighbor, and potentially romantic partner, Dorothy Freeman. She describes a feeling of imminent death, and so pens this letter as a sort of good-bye. Though Carson was suffering from cancer at the time…

29 April (1913): Franz Kafka writes to Felice Bauer about potentially visiting her and her family “at Whitsun” (during t...
04/29/2015
29 April (1913): Franz Kafka to Felice Bauer | The American Reader

29 April (1913): Franz Kafka writes to Felice Bauer about potentially visiting her and her family “at Whitsun” (during the Pentecost holiday). He later proposed to Bauer in July of that year.

"What a lovely feeling to be in your safekeeping when confronted by this fearful world which I venture to take on only during nights of writing. Today I thought that one had nothing to complain of so long as one lived with this dual feeling: that someone one loves is well disposed toward one, and that at the same time one had boundless possibilities of doing away with oneself at any moment..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/29-april-1913-franz-kafka-to-felice-bauer/

29 April (1913): Franz Kafka to Felice Bauer Tweet Here, Franz Kafka writes to Felice Bauer about potentially visiting her and her family “at Whitsun” (during the Pentecost holiday). April 29 to 30, 1913 It’s late now. I went to a Yiddish performance with Max, his wife, and Weltsch, but hurried out…

28 April (1959): Gregory Corso writes to poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti about the effect publishing has on his...
04/28/2015
28 April (1959): Gregory Corso to Lawrence Ferlinghetti | The American Reader

28 April (1959): Gregory Corso writes to poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti about the effect publishing has on his writing, and about his latest poem, which imagined divinity as a stickiness.

"Happy to hear your finishing the Black Book Of Andalouse Raffine. What made you think I thought there was something of me in it? Ah, thou gentle Germanicus, do you still think me possessed by ego-fascism? That I even tend to usurp the seed, the crystallization, the bloom, the festival, of thy comet? If so, you are wronging my legend, wretchedly arbitrary me. Despair, infidelity, insomnia, and still I seek some trout to fry.

Yes, I gave Laughlin my brimming entreats, how will he treat them? God knows."

Keep reading here: http://theamericanreader.com/28-april-1959-gregory-corso-to-lawrence-ferlinghetti/

28 April (1959): Gregory Corso to Lawrence Ferlinghetti Tweet Here, Gregory Corso writes to poet and publisher Lawrence Ferlinghetti about the effect publishing has on his writing, and about his latest poem, which imagined divinity as a stickiness. New York[ca. April 26] 1959 Dear Larry, Thanks very…

24 April (1933): Helene Johnson writes to Dorothy West, fellow author of the Harlem Renaissance, telling her of life in ...
04/24/2015
24 April (1933): Helene Johnson to Dorothy West | The American Reader

24 April (1933): Helene Johnson writes to Dorothy West, fellow author of the Harlem Renaissance, telling her of life in the U.S. and urging her to return home from USSR. West had travelled to Moscow along with Langston Hughes and a large contingent of prominent Black leftists, writers, and artists, to film “Black and White,” a movie about racially-fueled social injustices in the Latino sugar market

"I cabled you to come home against my own wishes, dear, but because the family wants you back so. You’ve been away so long, darling, and they are worries about you and I’m afraid to have you stay over there so far from home or my responsibility. I love you and want you to stay and work hard and make good, things are so terrible over here, but you know how families are..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/24-april-1933-helene-johnson-to-dorothy-west/

24 April (1933): Helene Johnson to Dorothy West Tweet Here, Helene Johnson writes to Dorothy West, fellow author of the Harlem Renaissance, telling her of life in the U.S. and urging her to return home from USSR. West had travelled to Moscow along with Langston Hughes and a large contingent of promi…

23 April (1989): Kurt Vonnegut writes George Strong, a fellow veteran who was also imprisoned in Slaughterhouse Five, ab...
04/23/2015
23 April (1989): Kurt Vonnegut to George Strong | The American Reader

23 April (1989): Kurt Vonnegut writes George Strong, a fellow veteran who was also imprisoned in Slaughterhouse Five, about their acquaintances from the war, as well as a passage in Vonnegut’s novel Bluebeard that contains imagery from their shared experience in Germany.

"I’m home again, to the extent that anybody’s really got a home anymore. Maybe my fundamental home is in Dresden, since that is where my great adventure took place, and where one hundred of us selected at random were bonded by tremendous violence into a brotherhood—and then dispersed to hell and gone..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/23-april-1989-kurt-vonnegut-to-george-strong/

23 April (1989): Kurt Vonnegut to George Strong Tweet Here, Kurt Vonnegut writes George Strong, a veteran who was also imprisoned in Slaughterhouse Five, about their acquaintances from the war—living, dead, and in unknown states—as well as a passage in Vonnegut’s novel Bluebeard that contains imager…

22 April (1875): Gustave Flaubert writes to French actress Edma Roger Des Genettes about his deteriorating health and hi...
04/22/2015
22 April (1875): Gustave Flaubert to Madame Roger Des Genettes | The American Reader

22 April (1875): Gustave Flaubert writes to French actress Edma Roger Des Genettes about his deteriorating health and his waning interest in his own work.

"What makes me desperate is that I no longer believe in my book. The prospect of its difficulties depresses me in advance. It has become a chore for me..."

Keep reading here: http://theamericanreader.com/22-april-1875-gustave-flaubert-to-madame-roger-des-genettes-2/

22 April (1875): Gustave Flaubert to Madame Roger Des Genettes Tweet Here, Flaubert writes to French actress Edma Roger Des Genettes, a frequent correspondent, about his deteriorating health and waning interest in his own work. Paris, Thursday [April 1875] My health is deteriorating. As to what’s wr…

21 April (1941): Marianne Moore writes to her brother, John Warner Moore, about a recent trip to read some of her work a...
04/21/2015
21 April (1944): Marianne Moore to John Warner Moore | The American Reader

21 April (1941): Marianne Moore writes to her brother, John Warner Moore, about a recent trip to read some of her work at Bryn Mawr College.

"Miss Finch delivered me over to a Miss Henderson who wanted to 'record' me in Pembroke East basement. [...] My 'Carriage from Sweden' sounded as if a drunken falsetto bullfrog had assayed to sing. So I swelled up my frog chest & vowed I would beat the devil at his own game & had a wonderful success in my 3rd attempt..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/21-april-1944-marianne-moore-to-john-warner-moore/

21 April (1944): Marianne Moore to John Warner Moore Tweet Here, Marianne Moore writes to her brother, John Warner Moore, about a recent trip to read some of her work at Bryn Mawr College. The letter reveals some of Moore’s stylistic habits reserved for correspondence, including referring to herself…

20 April (1965): Norman Mailer writes Edmund Skellings an unconventional thank you note, half insult and half wordplay, ...
04/20/2015
20 April (1965): Norman Mailer to Edmund Skellings | The American Reader

20 April (1965): Norman Mailer writes Edmund Skellings an unconventional thank you note, half insult and half wordplay, expressing his appreciation for Skellings’ hospitality during his recent trip to Alaska.

"Well now listen, God’s little flutings, I heard that Hawaiian harp which passes for your nervous system go wingdinging out into the great North night as I went flying south. What a miserable old mother are you..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/20-april-1965-norman-mailer-to-edmund-skellings/

20 April (1965): Norman Mailer to Edmund Skellings Tweet Here, Norman Mailer writes Edmund Skellings an unconventional thank you note, half insult and half wordplay, expressing his appreciation for Skellings’ hospitality during his recent trip to Alaska. Skellings, who lived in Fairbanks and establi…

17 April (1950): E.E. Cummings sends Ezra Pound a fictional press report, playfully imagining the repercussions of a for...
04/17/2015
17 April (1950): E.E. Cummings to Ezra Pound | The American Reader

17 April (1950): E.E. Cummings sends Ezra Pound a fictional press report, playfully imagining the repercussions of a forged “certain document.” The “certain document” likely refers to Pound’s practice of urging other authors to submit his articles to publications as if they were their own. Cummings goes on to mock the media and tease Pound, who was incarcerated at St. Elizabeth’s mental institution at the time, referring to him as “Dr. Enzo” and calling his Confucian work “The Unwobbling Pigeon.”

"The alleged instigator of this nefarious scheme, whose motive cannot as yet be determined, is suspected of having urged a prominent photographer of this city to falsify, in some unrevealed manner, a certain document whose exact nature (in the interests of domestic security) remains a carefully guarded government secret, known only to the President & his advisors, the Cabinet, the Supreme Court, the Congress, the Senate, & all their more intimate associates..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/17-april-1950-e-e-cummings-to-ezra-pound/

17 April (1950): E.E. Cummings to Ezra Pound Tweet Here, E.E. Cummings sends Ezra Pound a fictional press report, playfully imagining the repercussions of a forged “certain document.” The “certain document” likely refers to Pound’s practice of urging other authors to submit his articles to publicati…

16 April (1962): Ted Berrigan writes to Sandy Berrigan (née Alper), a nineteen-year-old woman whom Ted (twenty-seven at ...
04/16/2015
16 April (1962): Ted Berrigan to Sandy Berrigan | The American Reader

16 April (1962): Ted Berrigan writes to Sandy Berrigan (née Alper), a nineteen-year-old woman whom Ted (twenty-seven at the time) married only six days after meeting her while visiting a friend at Tulane. At the time the letter was written, Sandy was in the mental ward of a Florida hospital, at the insistence of her parents, who were intent on separating the two.

"For that matter, what is good or bad?

Jimmy Hoffa doesn’t drink, smoke, loves his family, works very hard, and contrary to public opinion, doesn’t steal. He doesn’t take drugs, probably doesn’t bite his nails, although he might resort to a stray murder now and then. How many people did Einstein murder by suggesting to Roosevelt that we develop an atomic bomb? Or is that murder?

Did the U.S. steal from Cuba for two hundred years? Did Americans steal Texas from Mexico, and murder Mexicans when they tried to get it back? Or was that something else? Does your dad steal by taking fees from sick people? Is he murdering us slowly? Did you steal from him when you took his money for everything all your life, and then ran off with me?"

Keep reading here: http://theamericanreader.com/16-april-1962-ted-berrigan-to-sandy-berrigan/

16 April (1962): Ted Berrigan to Sandy Berrigan Tweet Here, Ted Berrigan writes to Sandy Berrigan (née Alper), a nineteen-year-old woman whom Ted (twenty-seven at the time) married only six days after meeting her while visiting a friend at Tulane. At the time the letter was written, Sandy was in the…

14 April (1950): Jean Rhys writes to friend Peggy Kirkaldy about the growing legal troubles of her third husband, Max Ha...
04/14/2015
14 April (1950): Jean Rhys to Peggy Kirkaldy | The American Reader

14 April (1950): Jean Rhys writes to friend Peggy Kirkaldy about the growing legal troubles of her third husband, Max Hamer. Hamer would soon be convicted of fraud and sent to prison.

"Then my dear I went all of a doodah and of course I started to drink again—

You see I am weak and a coward and it wasn’t a pleasant situation. The house was a bit ghostly and lonely oh Lord! and my small money was melting away, gas, electricity, phone, hairdos and housecoats to woo back the straying Max. God what a fool I am! Clinging vines aren’t in it..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/14-april-1950-jean-rhys-to-peggy-kirkaldy/

14 April (1950): Jean Rhys to Peggy Kirkaldy Tweet Here, Jean Rhys writes to friend Peggy Kirkaldy about the growing legal troubles of her third husband, Max Hamer. Hamer would soon be convicted of fraud and sent to prison. Monday [1950]Stanhope Gardens Peggy my dear, Max’s case comes on tomorrow,…

13 April (1929): Yvor Winters writes to Harriet Monroe, the editor and founding publisher of Poetry magazine, offering a...
04/13/2015
13 April (1922): Yvor Winters to Harriet Monroe | The American Reader

13 April (1929): Yvor Winters writes to Harriet Monroe, the editor and founding publisher of Poetry magazine, offering a new poem and discussing problems with his neighbors.

"The two men in the cottage behind mine have been trapping for coyotes (I envy them their native faith) and have caught numerous magpies, one towhee, one golden eagle, which is now caged up behind their cottage, where it is impossible to let him loose without getting caught in the act. I have written them a letter purporting to come from the state game warden, however, and hope to scare them into letting him go..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/13-april-1922-yvor-winters-to-harriet-monroe/

13 April (1922): Yvor Winters to Harriet Monroe Tweet Here, Yvor Winters writes to Harriet Monroe, the editor and founding publisher of Poetry magazine, with a new poem. [ca. April, 1922?] Dear Miss Monroe: I am enclosing another poem to be consider along with my “Poems in Autumn” group and may sen…

10 April (1944): A young Anthony Hecht writes home to his family from his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. He te...
04/10/2015
10 April (1944): Anthony Hecht to his Family | The American Reader

10 April (1944): A young Anthony Hecht writes home to his family from his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. He tells of the humdrum nature of army life and his anxieties for the future. His wartime experience would serve as a prominent influence in his writing as well as his personal life, as he would later suffer from recurring PTSD.

"I do not choose to write about the present simply because it’s routine boredom. I do not care to speculate on the future because it looks too ominous. This leaves only the past to think about and I’ve thought about it so much, I’m already beginning to feel like Marcel Proust..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/10-april-1944-anthony-hecht-to-his-family/

10 April (1944): Anthony Hecht to his Family Tweet Here, Anthony Hecht writes home from his basic training at Fort Leonard Wood, MO. He tells of the humdrum nature of army life and his anxieties for the future. His wartime experience would serve as a prominent influence in his writing as well as his…

April 9 (1970): James Schuyler writes to poet and author Ron Padgett, a fellow member of the New York School. He recount...
04/09/2015
9 April (1970): James Schuyler to Ron Padgett | The American Reader

April 9 (1970): James Schuyler writes to poet and author Ron Padgett, a fellow member of the New York School. He recounts a recent visit to East Aurora, NY, reflects on soap operas, and lauds the spring flowers in bloom.

"Joe says he likes daytime serials because the actors are so good and the stories so strangely true to life. Uhm. Maybe the attraction is that they are what one fears life may be like—a lot of decorous people sitting around Tvless living rooms telling lies on demand. 'Did you see Helen today?' Commence sneaky music. 'Why—why—' close up of quivering wrinkle 'No!' Asthma attack begins as Wurlitzer explodes into fragments through which we see a woman buy a beauty shop so she can give herself a decent home permanent—'I like lots of body—not much curl.' Where is my Build-a-Bomb kit..."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/9-april-1970-james-schuyler-to-ron-padgett-2/

9 April (1970): James Schuyler to Ron Padgett Tweet Here, James Schuyler writes to poet and author Ron Padgett, a fellow member of the New York School. He recounts a recent visit to East Aurora, NY, reflects on soap operas, and lauds the spring flowers in bloom.  April 9, 1970 Dear Larry O’Dendron,…

8 April (1966):  Robert Creeley writes to the Bela Zempleny of the U.S. State Department Division for Americans Abroad, ...
04/08/2015
8 April (1966): Robert Creeley to Bela Zempleny, U.S. Department of State | The American Reader

8 April (1966): Robert Creeley writes to the Bela Zempleny of the U.S. State Department Division for Americans Abroad, turning down an offer (which he initially accepted) to travel to Pakistan and write there on State Department sponsorship.

"Briefly, I am very disturbed by the growing dilemma in Viet-Nam, so that to go to a country as Pakistan at a time when an implicit political crisis is so evident, and to go as a guest of the State Department in apparent support of a President whom I deeply question, would seem a deep and inadmissible confusion of my own purposes and commitments...."

Read the rest here: http://theamericanreader.com/8-april-1966-robert-creeley-to-bela-zempleny-u-s-department-of-state/

8 April (1966): Robert Creeley to Bela Zempleny, U.S. Department of State Tweet Here, Robert Creeley writes to the Bela Zempleny of the U.S. State Department Division for Americans Abroad, turning down an offer (which he had initially accepted) to travel to Pakistan and write there. The trip would h…

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