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Scotland’s Transatlantic Poetry Magazine
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Scotland’s Transatlantic Poetry Magazine HorseLogoGif

LAST CLASS WITH ANNE SEXTON

by Julie Kane

 

i was a student in Anne Sexton’s last class at Boston University in the fall of 1974. Our poetry workshop met on Wednesday afternoons beginning September eleventh. That calendar date was not yet a bad omen, but it certainly seems like one, in retrospect.

Waiting for Anne to arrive on the first day of class, we perched on hard wooden chairs backed up against the walls to form a rough circle. There were eight of us, and most of us were smoking, so the classroom held a dreary air. But then our teacher burst in, incandescent.

She was taller than I had expected, with broad shoulders poking out like wings from a sleeveless cotton dress. Under fierce black eyebrows and a wedge of dark, wavy hair, her eyes were surprisingly blue. She looked a little heavier around the waist than in her photos, but her cheekbones were still model-sharp, as if they had been struck from flint with a rock. My God, I thought: she’s as old as my mother, but she’s still beautiful. I was twenty-two at the time and considered my mother to be a senior citizen.

After collapsing into a chair, the first thing Anne did was to kick off her shoes. Then, with a husky voice and great cackly laugh, she asked us to go around the room introducing ourselves and reading one of our poems out loud. I hadn’t brought any poems with me that day, so I recited one from memory, about the women in my family at an Irish wake. Anne chortled her approval. But when a classmate’s poem responded to an ambulance siren with the line “that little thrill when they enter your neighborhood,” Anne let out a shriek. “No, no, it’s not thrilling at all!” she protested. “I should know. I’ve been in the back of too many of them myself.”

What a change of atmosphere from the two reserved Southern gentlemen who had been my poetry teachers at Cornell! My classmates, too, were very different from the gentle blue-jeaned hippies in my undergraduate workshops.

Blonde Kate Green from Minneapolis had a summer tan and fabulous outfits like a fringed suede skirt and matching vest. I would soon learn that it was not because she was rich, but because she had been working full time for a few years following graduation. Kate was dealing with the archetypal language of the Deep Image movement: snow, rain, sleep, silence, hands, breath, fire. Still, my favorite poem of hers was an early one about a failed marriage, where the bride had her fingers crossed “for luck” behind her back.

A thin and jittery New Yorker who adored Gertrude Stein, Pat Crain did not seem like the type who would be drawn to the cradle of Confessionalism. (Robert Lowell had once taught Plath and Sexton in the very classroom where we now met.) She had a brilliant critical mind. She threw good parties, too, in an apartment swarming with displaced New York City tomcats.

Judy Richardson lived on the Massachusetts seacoast with a marine biologist husband. She had a wild imagination, a sly wit, and a gift for the memorable simile, like “Having an alcoholic in the family / is like keeping a hammerhead shark in the bathtub.”

Mari Nakamura didn’t join us until the second or third week of the semester. Coming from Hawaii, she had access to a storehouse of lush imagery that I envied even more than Kate’s wardrobe: rice paper, jellyfish, sea turtles. She was shy in class.

As for me, I was fresh out of Cornell, where I had won the Mademoiselle Magazine College Poetry prize the year before. Anne had been the judge. There had actually been two winners and two judges (James Merrill was the other one), but it was obvious which judge had picked me: my winning poem had insomnia, a doll hospital, and a pink candy heart in it. “Anne Sexton likes me!” was all I could think after that. Anne was my absolute poetic idol. Plath was, too, but Plath had killed herself, whereas Anne had written, “Depression is boring, I think / and I would do better to make / some soup and light up the cave.” So I had turned down my acceptance to The Iowa Writers Workshop, the best MFA program in the country, for the chance to study with Anne in Boston.

Besides the five of us grad students, there were three undergrads and one special student in the class. Anne had picked the nine of us out of around a hundred fifty applicants, based on a sample packet of poems. She was not impressed by academic credentials, having dropped out of junior college herself. So Polly Williams, an undergraduate psychology major, got into the class while Anne turned down at least one of the graduate creative writing students. Meg Zelickson, an undergraduate English major, made the cut, too. The third undergraduate and lone male in our midst was Roberto Landazuri. He had to put up with a lot of vented feminist anger and menstruation imagery, but he was a good sport about it. He was also a fine poet, my favorite of the group.

Suzanne Berger Rioff was the mystery figure in our class. Except for our course, she was not enrolled at BU—in fact, she was teaching creative writing at a local college herself. She had already placed poems in The New Yorker and in the landmark 1973 women’s poetry anthology No More Masks, along with Brooks, Giovanni, Levertov, Plath, Rich, Sexton, et al. We didn’t understand what she was doing in our class, since she obviously didn’t need it. But, let’s face it: we were all Anne’s groupies, hanging on her every word and gesture and hoping to be blessed by her attention.

For our first real workshop the second week of class, I brought in copies of a new poem titled “J.B.” They had been photocopied at a Xerox machine shop on Commonwealth Avenue, not hand-cranked in purple ink on a mimeograph machine, and I felt as if I were riding the front wave of advanced technology. The poem was about watching a physically beautiful young man shoot pool. The draft version ended with a crazy stanza about wanting to purify the physical attraction, to be able to admire the youth’s athletic grace from a more aesthetic perspective.

“NO-O-O-O-OOO!” yelled Anne. “That’s not the right ending. Chalk his cue! You’ve gotta chalk his cue!”

We all cracked up; we loved it when Anne got raunchy. But she was right about the poem. The revised version, published as “J.T.” in The Remington Review the following April, ended with four lines that had practically been dictated by Anne:

and many ladies w/ velvety

pockets would kill

for the privilege of chalkin’

yr cue

Toward the end of that September eighteenth class, Anne announced that she wanted to take us out for a drink. Some students had prior commitments, but about six of us followed her down the marble stairs of our building and across Bay State Road like a line of baby ducks. Cigarette in hand, she stopped in front of the Gothic stone mansion we called “The Castle.” Then she ducked into the alley beside it and led us through an arched entrance and down several steps to BU’s faculty club.

Only, instead of tweedy faculty members hoisting mugs of imported beer, we ran into three or four workmen in white overalls. “We-ah closed!” one of them yelled. “Closed for electrical re-pay-ahs.”

“Oh, dear,” said Anne, approaching the spokesman and fixing him with sad blue eyes. “Would you mind very much if we just sat over there?” She motioned with a cigarette to a far corner of the wood-paneled room. “We won’t be in your way. We just want a quiet place to talk.”

By then, the other workmen had ambled over, and they were looking Anne up and down with obvious admiration. She was my mother’s age, and she was flirting with them! I straightened up to my full height, poked my chest out, and tossed my hair; I was used to commanding male attention in those days. But it was clear that a cloak of invisibility had descended upon me, with 45-year-old Anne in the same room.

“Shoo-ah, no problem.”

“Thank you so much,” she crooned. We followed her to a corner table and sat down. I was wondering why she hadn’t moved us to The Dugout, a dive bar just off campus, instead of staying in this liquorless place, when suddenly she plopped a large handbag on the table and unsnapped the metal clasp. She began rummaging through it and pulling out airplane nip bottles of vodka, cigarette lighters, pill bottles, Kleenex, and lipsticks. We watched in disbelief as several mini-bottles of vodka materialized in front of us, along with a dozen Cricket lighters and as many cylinders of pills.

“Excuse me,” she called to the workmen. “Is there any ice?”

“Sorry, the electricity’s off,” one shouted back.

“Then would you mind if we got some water?”

The man waved back at her, then went behind the bar. When he came to our table, he was carrying two Old Fashioned glasses filled with water. Anne thanked him, then sent one of us to fetch more empty glasses.

“We’re going to have vodka and water!” she announced gaily. “That’s almost like a vodka mist, vodka over crushed ice, which used to be my drink!” She poured a double shot of vodka in each glass, then topped it with a little water. It was like the miracle of the loaves and fishes, only with vodka and H2O.

I was so nervous about sitting right next to my idol, in a social setting, that my hands were shaking. I had to grip my glass with both hands to keep the liquid from sloshing out. But when Anne mentioned that she needed a favor from one of us, I volunteered before she even told us what it was. She explained that she had befriended a nurse from the mental hospital where she’d been a patient. The problem was that the hospital had a rule against staff members fraternizing with patients. Anne had to let the woman know about an upcoming lunch date, but she couldn’t phone there herself, because they might recognize her voice. She gave me the phone number and the secret code name that she used with her friend. Feeling like a Russian double-agent, I located the bar’s pay phone, dropped a dime into it, dialed, and asked for the nurse. It took a few minutes for them to fetch her, during which I began to shake even more for fear of being found out and getting Anne in trouble. When Anne’s friend finally said hello, I blurted out my coded message: Mrs. Fake Name would meet her at such-and-such a time on such-and-such a day at their usual place. She let out a sparkly laugh. “Got it. Thank you, dear,” she said.

When I returned to the table, Anne tried to give me ten cents for the phone call, but I wouldn’t take it, even though I was grad-student-poor and a dime was worth four cigarettes. It meant so much to be able to do something for her. I would have stabbed a vein and siphoned out a quart of blood, if she had asked.

We spent about an hour with Anne that afternoon, until the vodka ran out. She read us the draft of a new, long poem about getting daisies on the day of her divorce; it must have been “The Break Away,” which would appear in the posthumous 45 Mercy Street. As I walked back home to my third-floor walkup apartment, my thoughts skipped ahead to all of the after-class drinks sessions to come that year. Anne and I were going to be friends! I could hardly contain my excitement.

During our third class meeting on September twenty-fifth, Anne told us that she might be late the following week, because she would be flying back from an out-of-state reading. Goucher College had invited her to read in honor of its first woman president. We were excited on her behalf, but she seemed stressed at the thought of the plane trip and insecure about her performance skills. Suddenly we were the teachers and she the pupil, as we assured her that she was a star and her performance would be sensational. Like Tinker Bell rallying from the applause of TV viewers after drinking poison, Anne seemed to gather confidence from our praise and concern.

That must have been the class in which she got more philosophical than usual. She said that we shouldn’t get too excited seeing our names in print above a poem, because there was really only one poem, flowing like a river through all of us. In order to give ourselves over to that force, we had to learn how to put our egos aside. “You have to be a fool for poetry,” she said. We had to stop caring what anybody thought about the self in our poems. I could hardly believe that I was hearing such words from a woman of my mother’s generation. My tall, Massachusetts-born, dark-haired, blue-eyed mother had chided me more than once about “airing my dirty laundry” in my poems. What did she know about writing poetry, about Confessionalism? I was Anne’s acolyte now.

We worried about Anne all that week, though, so the following Wednesday several students from our class decided to surprise her by meeting her at the airport. That was back before security checkpoints, when anybody could walk right up to an arrival gate. The terminals used to be crawling with Hare Krishnas in flowing robes handing out flowers and recruitment literature. I had a class before the class with Anne, so I opted to stay behind rather than join the airport delegation.

Anne was giddy and a little drunk when she made it to class, having stopped for “lunch” with her greeters. She bragged about the red dress slit to her thighs that she had worn for the reading and about the standing ovation she got at the end. They had paid her a fortune for performing: two thousand dollars, if I remember correctly.

“She kept pulling her check out of her purse and waving it at us,” laughed Judy.

I don’t remember reviewing any poems that afternoon. We had started late, and it seemed that all we did was to debrief Anne about her conquest of Goucher College. She swept all of us up into her funnel cloud of elation. One of the grad fiction writing students was throwing a party that evening, and we asked Anne to come, but she told us she wasn’t very good at parties. It was hard to believe, when she was so charismatic in class.

Two days later, on Friday afternoon, my elderly Aunt Honey picked me up and drove me to the suburbs for a weekend of home-cooked meals and laundry. The weather had changed, down to the thirties that evening, and when I woke up on Saturday morning I felt the wintry chill seeping through the windows. I tied on my bathrobe and padded out to the kitchen. As I began pouring a cup of coffee from the metal percolator on the stove, my aunt came up behind me and put a claw hand on my arm. “Dear,” she said, “I don’t know how to tell you this, but I didn’t want you to hear it on the radio first . . .”

I whipped around and saw that her eyes were red with tears. And that’s how I found out that Anne was dead.

***

Not knowing what else to do, we students showed up for our class with Anne the following Wednesday. George Starbuck, the head of the BU Creative Writing Program, was there waiting for us. I didn’t know then that he and Anne had once been lovers, but I can see why she had fallen for him: he was tall and darkly handsome, and he had won the Yale Younger Poets Award right out of the gate, with his first poetry collection. But by the time we knew him, he was writing a baffling, riddling type of light verse that seemed to us to be showing off his Mensa qualifications and not much else. If he hadn’t also penned some poems opposing the Vietnam War, we would have written him off altogether.

Knowing now that Starbuck had loved Anne, I can see that he must have been suffering, too. But he appalled us by using our class time to plan Anne’s memorial service. We were in shock. We didn’t want to think about printed programs or the order of speakers.

The service took place in BU’s Marsh Chapel at four o’clock on October fifteenth. Maxine Kumin spoke about her long friendship with Anne. I was still so numb that the words just bounced off me like hailstones. At some point during the service, I caught sight of a familiar hawk-like profile and bowl haircut in the pew ahead of me. It was John Updike, my favorite fiction writer. I began craning my neck to see if the woman next to him had a dusting of freckles on her arms, like the love interest in his recent stories. But it was chilly and rainy outside, and she was wearing long sleeves, so I couldn’t tell.

At the end of the service, we all stood up and sang an incongruously jaunty song about setting aside one’s troubles and cheering up. It seems to me that it was the World War I trench song “Pack up your troubles in an old kit bag and smile, smile, smile,” but that would have been just too creepy, so it must have been the gospel song “I’m gonna lay down my burdens, down by the riverside.” In either case, despite the organist’s gusto, it was the wrong song at the wrong time.

***

Meanwhile, somebody had to take over Anne’s class. I wrote to my parents in mid-October, “Rumor has it that Starbuck is fishing for Maxine Kumin or Elizabeth Bishop for 2nd semester . . . God knows what’s going to happen to the class before that. Starbuck used it last week to plan Anne’s memorial service . . . an outrage in the room that still vibrated with the force of her personality.” The rumor mill turned out to be correct about Bishop. In early November, she wrote to Robert Lowell saying that she’d turned the job offer down: “Once a week, 4 or 6 people; but I figured out how little I’d actually earn, what with more taxes, remembered how tired I get with the two classes I have; and then began wondering how I’d ever get along with the students that had been attracted to Anne, and decided I wouldn’t . . .” Anne’s memorial service, she continued, “was well-meant, but rather awful—and after hearing a few of her students reminisce, I knew I’d been absolutely right—especially as to the last reason.”

That stung. Even if her instincts were correct.

Rather than replace Anne for the rest of the semester, Starbuck kept sending us a different poet each week, whoever was close enough to Boston to commute for a day: James Tate from the University of Massachusetts at Amherst, Thomas Lux from Emerson College, Charles Simic from the University of New Hampshire. It was rather like sending a stream of Christians into a den of lions. It made no difference how much we respected that poet’s work: he was not Anne. We just sat there and glared at all of them until their two hours were up.

Simic was hired to cover the class for the Spring 1975 semester. On January twenty-third, after our first class meeting, I wrote to my boyfriend in Ithaca that “Simic’s class was the polar opposite of Anne’s. He’s so critical! He didn’t like ANYTHING!” Over the course of the semester, I gradually came to appreciate Simic’s blunt honesty. He kept telling me that my poems felt artificial, not real, and he was right about that. I was frozen inside in the aftermath of Anne’s death, and my poems showed it. One Friday he held a make-up class in The Dugout. After several glasses of wine, he began reading to us from a medieval bestiary and telling us stories about getting drunk and singing with James Tate. That made him seem more human. But, still: he was not Anne.

In the middle of that second semester, John Cheever (who was BU’s star fiction writer, as Anne had been its star poet) had an alcoholic breakdown and got sent off to rehab. He resigned, leaving the fiction writers as stranded as the poets until John Updike took over (a win). Jesus, what a faculty! Outside of the class he was teaching, Starbuck was glimpsed only rarely: a tall, elegant ghost haunting our brownstone building. He was supposed to be my thesis director, but it was Mary Gormley, the sweet young departmental secretary, who told me how to set the margins on my typewriter and where to deposit my copies, which was all the direction I got. A couple of weeks after I submitted the thesis, Starbuck handed me a single sheet of paper. He had assigned a letter grade to each individual poem—except that he had run out of steam and stopped grading with nine poems left to go. But I guess I should be happy that I got four A-plusses and only one B, with the rest falling somewhere in between.

***

For many years afterward, I was too traumatized to want to revisit that time in my life. Then in the late 1980s, I agreed to talk about Anne to Kay Murphy’s class on women poets at the University of New Orleans. Afterward, Kay took my anecdote about drinking with Anne and wrote her own poem about it, as if she had been the one there. It felt very strange to be the victim of poetic identity theft; and even worse, it was a fine poem. The poet in me couldn’t ask Kay not to publish it. Clearly, I needed to work on the “only one poem flowing through all of us like a river” thing. But it felt as if a new layer of pain had been deposited on top of the old one.

In the early 1990s, Diane Wood Middlebrook’s biography of Anne came out. I was stunned to learn of Anne’s inappropriate sexual behavior with her daughter Linda. I had long thought of Anne as my “real” mother—funny, warm, approving, sensual, literary—as opposed to the cold and critical woman who had raised me. But suddenly the wonderful Anne I had known seemed like a fraud, and my memories of her seemed tainted, sordid. My own mother was dying of lung cancer. We drew closer, toward the end, than we had been in many years.

Another decade went by, a new century and millennium began, and one day out of the blue I heard from Roberto Landazuri. A corporate archivist in San Francisco, he had used the research skills of his profession to track me down and to trace what had happened to our graduate classmates. Kate Green had become a successful mystery novelist. Dr. Pat Crain was a rising academic star, winner of the MLA Book Prize for a study of children’s alphabetic literacy. Judith Benét Richardson was authoring children’s books. Mari Nakamura, now Mari Kubo, had waited decades before publishing her first poetry chapbook with Finishing Line Press. Had Anne’s example served as a cautionary tale, holding us back from gambling everything on our poetry? I, too, had let other things take priority after BU, working as a technical writer for fifteen years before following my heart back to grad school for poetry.

In June of 2015, four decades after my BU graduation, I finally got up the courage to confront the written records of our class that Anne had left behind. The drive to the Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas in Austin took me nearly eight hours. Surrounded by the sculpted clay heads of male philosophers, I propped the folder with records from our class on a red velvet book cradle, and I took a deep breath.

There it was, the list of students in “EN 505A.” Mari had not yet joined us, and the names of two male undergraduates had been crossed out and reassigned to other creative writing teachers. Next to our names in Anne’s thick black felt-tip cursive, we had written in our college ID and phone numbers. My own handwriting slanted backwards then; I had long since forgotten the phone number that I once knew by heart.

There, too, was the draft of my poem “J.B.,” marked up in Anne’s handwriting. She had her own cuneiform for commenting on poems: a check mark in the margin meant she liked something, an underline meant she didn’t, and a question mark meant she wasn’t sure. My draft poem had three check marks at the beginning, but two underlines and a question mark at the end.

I flipped through other workshop poems from our class, remembering how Anne had hooted over the “bloody delicious casserole” that Polly’s speaker and her lover made when a “pinch of love” was added to them. That was just the sort of shocking, unconventional image that Anne loved. I came across Judy’s poem about a white spider who laid crystal eggs. There was a big black question mark next to a line that compared the spider to “the ghost of a daisy,” and I flashed back to how Anne had fussed because daisies were her favorite flower and she didn’t want anything creepy associated with them. There, too, was Roberto’s ars poetica, “Telling Someone You Are a Poet,” with the hilarious phrase “for all of the lines / that have come out of me as if / from little Timmy anguished on the potty.” And although there was no name on the poem with Virginia Woolf, Greta Garbo, a deKooning painting, and “the sex life of the polyp” in it, it was vintage Pat Crain.

I wanted to check on the date of Anne’s Goucher College reading, because the Middlebrook biography claimed that Anne had flown back on Thursday in time to teach our class, when our class met on Wednesdays. So I requested the folder containing Anne’s correspondence with Goucher. Sure enough, the reading had taken place on Tuesday evening, October first; Anne had returned to Boston the next morning, as I remembered and the Boston Globe had reported that very week. Once I confirmed the date, I began to fall under the spell of Anne’s personality, in carbon copies of her letters to the event’s arrangers. She had asked Dr. Charles Peirce to be sure to have her check ready, “as I am terribly broke, or as one puts it more politely, in debt.” She had turned down Mrs. Charles D. Harris’s invitation to dine with university bigwigs: “I thank you for your kindness in knowing that sometimes one needs to be with just a few good friends drinking vodka and eating a small sandwich.” She went on to confess that she felt it was bad luck to arrive more than ten minutes before a reading. Strangely, she felt the need to describe her appearance for those who would be greeting her—as if she were not the most famous woman poet in America: “I will be in a long dress and be carrying an attaché case, and I do have shortish dark brown hair and will probably have a white scarf around my head.” I laughed out loud at the description, as if Anne were a Cold War spy and that briefcase contained the nuclear launch codes. What a joy to hear her voice from beyond the grave, to feel her warmth and humor and zaniness arising from a sheet of onionskin! I didn’t want the illusion to end.

I turned to the final letter in the folder, dated Thursday, October third: the day after our last class, and the day before Anne died. In it, she had thanked Dr. Peirce for all of his help in arranging the reading. “I promise you I gave it my ALL,” she wrote. She went on to ask: “if you could write me a little blurby thing, it would help promote me at other colleges and would be a kindness to me.” She had also enclosed a statement of her trip-related expenses.

So, the day before she died, she was thinking of a future in which she would be wowing audiences at other universities. She was looking forward to getting an expense reimbursement check from Goucher in the mail. My classmates and I had not been blind to any warning signs of depression or suicide. A load of guilt I had been carrying for forty years washed suddenly away, like a logjam breaking up in a river.

Was it possible that Anne had not committed suicide at all: that, following a happy and vodka-fueled lunch that day with her best friend Maxine Kumin, she had stopped back home to get her fur coat because the temperature was dropping, before going out again? Had she merely passed out, drunk, after turning on the ignition in the closed garage? Sober for a quarter-century myself now, I am all too aware of how easily that can happen. There has never been any mention of a suicide note. Biographer Diane Wood Middlebrook reported that Anne phoned someone to change the time of that evening’s date just before going to her car. If she were planning to kill herself, why not just cancel the date altogether?

Despite all that has been published about Anne’s death, the only hard evidence I have seen for a verdict of suicide comes from a poem, Kumin’s “Oblivion.” In it, Kumin catalogs the ways various poets committed suicide, including one who was “wrapped in her mother’s old mink coat in the garage, a brick on the accelerator, / the Cougar’s motor thrumming / while she crossed over.” If Anne really did place a brick on the accelerator to keep gas flowing to the engine after she lost consciousness, or if there is some other evidence kept private by the family, then there is no questioning the official cause of death. Still, the sudden death-wish must have come out of nowhere, striking Anne in a joyful mood, full of plans for the future.

More than forty years into that future, Anne is firmly ensconced in the canon of American literature—though her name invariably gets linked to that of her friend and fellow Confessional poet Sylvia Plath, and Plath’s star burns a bit brighter. Anne has three poems in the Norton Anthology of American Literature (to Plath’s five) and four in the Heath (to Plath’s five). Those two textbooks dominate college survey courses of Amlit. While Plath has the edge with editors and critics, years of teaching literature to college students forced to take it by state decree always gladdened my heart. While those non-English majors tend to find Plath “unrelatable,” in their term, they nearly always connect with Sexton, just as they do with the very best of my generation’s rock music. (And it is surely no coincidence that Anne fronted a rock band, “Anne Sexton and Her Kind.”)

On a day when another such “people’s poet,” Bob Dylan, has been awarded the Nobel Prize in literature, I think back to the moment when I first encountered Anne’s poetry. It was an August afternoon between my freshman and sophomore years of college. I had just quit a summer sales job to join my family at their rented beach cottage at the Jersey Shore for a week. It was pouring down rain outside, but a previous renter had left behind a slim black paperback book with a purple flower on the cover: All My Pretty Ones, by Anne Sexton. I curled up on a sofa smelling faintly of mildewed stuffing and began to read.

Holy mother of God.

This poet new to me was writing lyrically, intensely, with exquisite craft—but about her own woman’s life, the messy reality of it. Suddenly I understood that I could do that, too. No more stiff, polite poems about nature, channeling the voice of Robert Frost. I could write as if I were confiding in a friend, and I could use my life experiences as tinder and kindling for the poems to come.

Because there is only one poem, flowing through each of us who gives a self over to it, taking on the shapes and colorations of our individual incarnations, but united at its source.

What a privilege it was to meet and know her, if only for a matter of weeks.




Julie Kane was the Poet Laureate of Louisiana for 2011 to 2013. Her website is here.

The author is grateful to the staffs of The Harry Ransom Research Center at the University of Texas at Austin and The Howard Gotlieb Archival Research Center at Mugar Library, Boston University. Thanks also to Kate Green and Roberto Landazuri for their input.

 

 

 

 

 

From issue 37 of The Dark Horse, Spring and Summer 2017.

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