Before we go on to Philip Rahv’s excoriation of the American Writers’ Conferences of 1935 and 1937, I want to pause for the 12 page section in PR. Vol4, No.3, “A Little Anthology.” Many of the poems are by important Modernist writers, including Wallace Stevens, the NY beat-ish poet, Kenneth Patchen, and two by PR regulars, Lionel Abel and Delmore Schwartz. They are all there for you to read at the Partisan Review on-line website. I don’t know what discussion among the editors resulted in the Little Anthology, but I was struck by reading one by Parker Tyler (1904-1974) , who I know of from his life with film, and his association with poets and filmmakers such as Myra Dehren and later, Andy Warhol. The poem is about epigones of T.S. Eliot, and it hits the mark. The poem juxtaposes what the actor does with what the poet does. It is a bit mysterious and a bit funny and something entirely different from the polished Stevens and the faux-Spoon River “Autobiographical Blues,” by Winfield Townley Scott. It is as precise as Delmore’s poem that closes the Anthology section of the issue.
Parker Tyler became a great critic of hollywood and avant-garde film, and he lived for close to 30 years with his partner Charles Boultenhouse, who worked with him and Charles Henri Ford on the journal View. They met in 1945, and the couple became friends with experimental film makers Stan Brakhage and Jonas Mekas.
Parker Tyler had started out as a young poet of 20 in New York; having already become friends by correspondence with Ford, who at that time ran a literary journal called Blues. Elisa Rolle tells us in her blog that“He was soon known as a poet and book reviewer who assumed the selfstylized persona of The Beautiful Poet Parker Tyler; meanwhile he earned his living at a monotonous editorial position. Tyler read his modern poetry—his influences were Stein, Pound, Moore, Cummings, and Mallarmé —at Greenwich Village clubs like the Sam Johnson, and his poems were published in national periodicals alongside such poets as William Carlos Williams and Louis Zukofsky.” (credit to elisa-rolle.livejournal.com). Tyler died at 70, in 1974. Its is exciting when people you know for one reason disclose themselves floating through a host of other groups and reasons. Tyler as a poet was friendly withPhilip Lamantia, surrealist poet, and North Beach denizen, and I keep a photo of him taken by Kamera Zie, photographer of 70s/80s, San Francisco post-punk fanzine, Search and Destroy, in our little studio in the Barbican. It makes my heart stand up and pump. What did Mary McCarthy and/or Philip Rahv think of him? If you know, please write a reply below. SO: here is the poem: any thoughts? I will update this post when I learn more.
“Testament from the Inheritors of the Waste Land”
While we drop our consonants,
The actor remembers and rehearses his lines
He remembers to remember the emphasis
We remember the emphasis
We forget to remember the rehearsal
The actor must remember the hour
Of the rehearsal, he must be
In an Eliot-hurry. We
Must not be in an Eliot-hurry.
We must remember our dignity.
Our dignity is not the actor’s dignity
The saving of us from embarrassment
The triumph of the learned syllable
Echoing like a bell;
This is not the breath of our satisfaction
The uptake of our pleasure
We are dwellers in leisure.
Our word is Mallarme’s Swan
Undivided in feather and
Unrehearsed in movement
We do not remove our feathers
After the performance. We keep them.
We do not go to the Night Club
After the performance
In order to relax after our triumph
Or to listen to the rehearsals
Of our triumph. We do
Not go to the bar of drinking
Except to drink, nor go to the bar
Of thinking, except to think.
The actor arrives at his pay-check
And the Elusive Thing called Fame
And he rehearses the fame every morning
That we rehearse the blame
We rehearse the blame yet we seize the lights
We rehearse the phosphene -spots, and
On the inside of the fallen lids
Of our expert-dreamer’s eyes,
None is that hero that dies
In the violet spot.
There is something we do
That is called Nothing that the actor
Does not do. Something that within the Plot
Of Time we do not plot. We are the unplotters
Unstringers. We grasp the scissors
From the palsied hand and we unscissor
And we deflower the dropped forgotten flower
That the stagehand fingers for a moment, then puts back.
There is nothing we have to say that
We do not lean over saying as
From a balcony, there is no balcony of words
We do not drop voice from as
From the murmurous one of Juliet
Sounding and unhinged from sound
Ah, honeysweet Romeo might be intercepted
By absence of that elocutionary sound.
The night is a bouquet of a strange delay
And the day an instant of impetuous wait:
Cool and deliberate as a fan.
If we have monsters yet we have not masks
But naked stalk the naked idea love
If we do not love the way Time the actor loves
Under a sun of summer sumptuousness
We grow irrevocably, simply, tan.
We remember our inadequacy in our parts
Rather than our adequacy
But we forget our inadequacy
As we forget our adequacy
In straining over the footlights of
Our brows. We abhor the nights
As an actor loves his “post-mortems.”
We abhor the sleepless nights
As an actor sleeps in the “post-mortems.”
Okay — on to The American Writers’ Conferences…….