LETTERS OF VACHEL LINDSAY by Vachel Lindsay

LETTERS OF VACHEL LINDSAY

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KIRKUS REVIEW

Vachel (""Boomalay Boomalay Boomalay Boom"") Lindsay created a monster that he spent a lot of his life trying to lose in a crowd; desperately, these letters protest against the general opinion of him as the ""jazz evangelist"" poet, the hearty and endless reciter of ""General William Booth Enters Into Heaven"" and ""The Congo""--jewels of mid-Western kitsch--and against his popular standing as a small-town chauvinist and bluenose. Editor Chenetier joins in this chorus of one, finding Lindsay ""the missing link"" between Imagism and Marshall McLuhan (!), between 19th-century art and Jackson Pollack; and to this end he touts Lindsay's self-advertised system of ""American Hyroglyphics"" as systemic and still vital. Come now. Lindsay himself in these letters takes no pains to hide ""the fact that most all of my poems from my seventeenth to my forty-seventh year were written to fit pictures which I first drew"" and which usually weren't published along with the words. Lindsay here does exhibit a mean little spunkiness: anti-saloon, -salon, -Semitic; he was the first to admit that ""I want to be as rousing as a Chautauqua oration, and at the same time carry a sort of smoking censer."" Women's clubs and girl's colleges all though the Twenties were only too happy to let him do just this, for considerable fees. But then he apparently had had enough; he wanted posterity's good opinion of his jingles, and couldn't snare it. Hence innumerable 15-page apologias pro vita sua: petitions for literary revisionism that are a little more than faintly, discomfortingly pathetic.

Pub Date: Nov. 10th, 1979
Publisher: Burt Franklin