Poet Laureate and Pulitzer Prize winner Robert Lowell would have been 101 this March. Lowell’s celebrated work first appeared in Salmagundi #4 (1966) as part of special feature offering essays by Stanley Kunitz and M.L. Rosenthal.
In Issue #37, shortly before Lowell’s death in 1977, we celebrated his 60th birthday by publishing several new poems, essays by critics and poets and “After Enjoying Six or Seven Essays on Me,” by Lowell himself. Frank Bidart wrote of Lowell that, “He has stayed alive as a poet by never drawing a line around what a poem can or should be. Again and again, his style has changed in an attempt to deal with the intractable, unfashionable, or intolerable subject matter. He has kept his poetry close to the intuitions, concerns, obsessions that dominate his mind. Many of us would be terrified to face or write the record of our lives.”
“I am not an authoritative critic of my own poems, except in the most pressing and urgent way. I have spent hundreds and hundreds of hours shaping, extending and changing hopeless or defective work. I lie on a bed staring, crossing out, writing in, crossing out what was written in, again and again, through days and weeks. Heavenly hours of absorption and idleness…intuition, intelligence, pursuing my ear that knows not what it says. In time, the fragmentary and scattered limbs become by a wild extended figure of speech, something living…a person.”
— Robert Lowell, excerpted from “After Enjoying Six or Seven Essays On Me.“ Published in Salmagundi No. 37 (Spring 1977).
Find his poem "History” here.