The Scholar & the Poet
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the gingko's older far
Than most trees here below
This leaf is Art
usually so fortunate in his friends has been well-served
by his executors and editors," the Los Angeles Times said in
naming the 888-page behemoth one of the best books of poetry in
2001. For the 670-page Collected Novels and Plays, Yenser and McClatchy
uncovered The Birthday, a short, unpublished play that Merrill wrote
as a college student at Amherst. The executors' stamp will be even
more prominent on Merrill's Selected Letters, tentatively slated
as the project's final volume. Yenser and McClatchy have solicited
letters from everyone in Merrill's voluminous address book. They
also ran ads seeking letters. One of the largest groups will come
from Yenser's own collection, which fills six large filing cabinets.
From the tens of thousands of letters so far collected, the executors
will have to choose fewer than 1,000.
is a great chore because Merrill was one of the last great letter
writers," Yenser says.
that he is complaining. Yenser insists the project "repays
me every inch of the way."
I'm reading Merrill again and thinking about what I'll write, he
is helping me think about new things to do, whether it's in my own
poems or essays," he says. "It's a network, a web of relations."
it's the least he can do for a friend.
FELT STEPHEN KNEW MERRILL'S OWN WORK BETTER THAN MERRILL DID. HE
WAS SO CLOSELY ATTUNED TO THE INS AND OUTS OF MERRILL'S IMAGINATION.
MERRILL SENSED IT FROM THE BEGINNING. STEPHEN WAS JAMES MERRILL'S