The Farrar, Straus and Giroux Poetry Blog

April 20, 2010

Editor James Meetze on Discovering Schuyler's Other Flowers

I Am That Creep, Pleased to Meet You.


I was reading the lively conversation between Jonathan Galassi and Eileen Myles in Vice, and Eileen says, about living in San Diego, “There was a way in which you were really alienated from where you lived. There wasn’t a lot of conversation and there wasn’t a lot of encounter.” This reminded me of the feeling I had upon discovering Schuyler’s poems, those that became Other Flowers, which “live” in San Diego.

Here is the life’s work of this poet I’ve always loved and always known to be both intimate and exclamatory, his poems often about or because of conversation and encounter—even being the encounter itself—and his poems and things reside now in this city where everyone is alienated by design and is thus forced to make encounters happen. That feeling I’d had was initially one of some cruel irony. But as I thought of Schuyler, it began to make sense. In a way, he was always alienated and made his own encounters, whether with a Fairfield Porter painting, the first bud of spring, his gossipy friends, or the poems of Leopardi.

Now, two reviews of Other Flowers have — appropriately, mind you — mentioned Schuyler’s “prophetic” lines from "A Few Days": “when I’m dead, some creep will publish [my notebooks] in a thin volume called Uncollected Verse.” I am that creep, pleased to meet you. Having long been a devotee of Schuyler’s work, I was very much aware of these lines and duly considered them before spending four months wearing white gloves in a stuffy room, and five years of my life working on this volume, so that these poems might reach the audience they deserved, something I could not have done without the intrepid collaboration of my dear coeditor, Simon Pettet. It is my belief — and one that appears to be shared by a great many participants in this project — that, while there is no “The Morning of the Poem” or “Hymn to Life” in this collection, these poems are a necessary addition to the James Schuyler oeuvre we already know and love. I think he would be pleased.

—James Meetze, April 19, 2010

Related: 

Letter Excerpt, read by John Ashbury
Money Musk, read by John Ashbury
Salute, read by Lawrence Joseph

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