• Parker Tyler (1904-1974)

    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.tyler-and-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  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…….