Saturday, October 6, 2007

Weldon Crusoe

I've mentioned that The Collected Poems of Weldon Kees was published in 1960. When the narrator of Kees' poems is in the third person, he is sometimes given a name - Robinson, whom Kenneth Rexroth described as "modern man at the end of his rope."

Rexroth (in his review of the book, published in the New York Times on January 8, 1961) added that Kees is only distinguishable from this Robinson by his (Kees') pity. And then, to make things clear: Kees is "Robinson Crusoe, utterly alone on Madison Avenue, a stranger and afraid in the world of high-paying news weeklies, fashionable galleries...high-brow movies," etc.

In 1956, in a letter, Rexroth observed of his friend Kees, that while others "have called themselves Apocalyptics, Kees lived in a permanent and hopeless apocalypse."

Kees worked for a while at Time magazine, where his boss was Whittaker Chambers.

Kees went with Elizabeth Bishop to visit Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeth's hospital in Washington, DC.

Mark Ford wrote in 2004 that Kees "radiated something Bartlebyish." "Why don't you want to be a success?" Truman Capote asked Kees at a party in 1948 (and one can well imagine Capote's tone in asking this).

From a late poem:

If this room is our world, then let
This world be damned.