Sunday, May 17, 2020


Books, movies, and music saved my life when I was a kid and young adult, over and over again. I still rely on them to comfort my spirit and soothe the turmoil of a restless mind and soul. Over the years I've gotten great solace from reordering my bookshelves by author, or by era, or by subject, or by taste, etc. but in recent years I've gotten less OCD about it and now can't locate books sometimes. Anyway, I decided to list some shelves and piles just for my own amusement and comfort. Here's the top shelf of a bookcase containing some poets and writers whose work had an impact on me once, or books with some special value, arranged more or less chronologically:

THE ANALECTS OF CONFUCIUS translated by Lionel Giles (a leather-bound Easton Press edition given to me for my 50th birthday with a loving inscription from Sharon Stone, so despite my critical take on Confucius after studying him in college, where my minor was in Asian Studies, this volume is a precious object connecting me to my longtime friend)

THE LETTERS OF WILLIAM BLAKE edited by Geoffrey Keynes (a wonderful hardcover from 1956 discovered in a used bookstore in Great Barrington earlier in this century)

THE POETRY AND PROSE OF WILLIAM BLAKE edited by David V. Erdman (a thick trade paperback (the large format) I bought in 1970 to replace earlier volumes of Blake's work)

LEAVES OF GRASS by Walt Whitman (a coverless bound test edition of the 1892 "deathbed" version from The Franklin Library in 1979 when I briefly worked there, with iconic 19th Century photographs)

SPECIMEN DAYS by Walt Whitman (the 1961 first printing of the 60-cent Signet Classics paperback edition I bought at 19 when it first came out)

THE WORKS OF WALT WHITMAN In Two Volumes As Prepared By Him For The Deathbed Edition Volume I The Collected Poetry (Minerva Press paperback 1969)

THE WORKS OF WALT WHITMAN In Two Volumes As Prepared By Him For The Deathbed Edition Volume II The Collected Prose (Minerva Press paperback 1969)

WALT WHITMAN: A LIFE by Justin Kaplan (the 1982 Bantam Books paperback trade edition) (I have many other books by or about Whitman scattered throughout my bookcases)

WINESBURG, OHIO by Sherwood Anderson ($1.45 trade paperback 1964 edition of the earlier Viking Press version)

U.S.A. by John Dos Passos (the 1963 beautifully designed trade paperback edition from Houghton Mifflin of the 1946 version of the novel trilogy with illustrations by Reginald Marsh)

DUST TRACKS ON A ROAD by Zora Neale Hurston ("the restored text established by The Library Of America" in 1995, Harper Perennial Edition trade paperback of this autobiography) (her novel Their Eyes Were Watching God, one of my top favorite books, must be in another bookcase)

THE GREAT GATSBY by F. Scott Fitzgerald (the $1.25 1950s(?) trade paperback from Scribner's)

IN OUR TIME by Ernest Hemingway (the $1.25 1950s(?) trade paperback from Scribner's)

SAVAGE MESSIAH by H. S. Ede (gorgeous 1931 large format hardback edition (no dustcover unfortunately), with great photographs, that I bought in a used book store in the 1960s and have cherished ever since)

GAUDIER-BRZESKA A Memoir by Ezra Pound (1970 New Directions trade paperback, also with photos)

THE CANTOS OF EZRA POUND (New Directions hardcover version)

THE POUND ERA by Hugh Kenner (much annotated (by me) trade paperback edition from The University of California Press in early 1970s)

SPRING & ALL by William Carlos Williams (1970 Frontier Press paperback edition of the 1923 Contact Press edition)

IMAGINATIONS: Five Experimental Prose Pieces by William Carlos Williams (1970 MacGibbon & Kee hardcover edition)

WHITE MULE by William Carlos Williams (1937 New Directions hardcover edition, unfortunately dustcover long gone, but still a beautiful book in every way)

WHITE MULE by William Carlos Williams (a New Directions hardcover reprint (with dustcover) from the 1960s)

IN THE MONEY by William Carlos Williams (1967 New Directions trade paperback edition)

THE BUILD-UP by William Carlos Williams (1968 paperback edition of the third novel in his "Stecher Trilogy")

PATERSON by William Carlos Williams (trade paperback edition from 1963 an inscribed Christmas gift from my then wife Lee in 1966)

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