Friday, February 04, 2005

William Corbett in Philadelphia 

On April 10, 1989 James Schuyler wrote a letter to a young poet named Peter Gizzi. Schuyler was writing back to Gizzi who he had solicited poems from for his magazine O’Blek. In his previous letter to Schuyler Gizzi must have asked Schuyler “What have you been reading?” Schuyler’s reply included Frank O’Hara, John Weiners, Philip Whalen and this item: “I’ve been enjoying Wm Corbett’s books. He sent me a collected which is full of wonderful things: Que pense-tu, beau Sphinx?" Which is a line from the movie Les Enfants du Paradis.

What were those books Schuyler was enjoying so much? They were Corbett’s City Nature and Runaway.

The letter is included in the new collection .Just the Thing: Selected Letters of James Schuyler 1951-1991 (Turtle Point Press), edited by Corbett.

Earlier yesterday Corbett gave an inspired talk on the painter Albert York and what he called York's "small and strong paintings" at Penn's School of Design.

After the talk Corbett read from perfectly smart, everyday-as-they-are-artful letters by James Schuyler (which he worked on and edited for the past 13 years) and newer poems of his own including a series of inspired and charged poems involving Franz Kline at Writers House.

Asked about his work as an editor (Pressed Wafer), his art writing, his editing projects, teaching at MIT, poetry and other work Corbett replied: "My work is all of these things."

--Tom Devaney

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