A special project for 92Y Unterberg Poetry Center’s 75th anniversary, 75 at 75 invites authors to listen to a recording from our archive and write a personal response. Here, Mark Ford writes about a reading by James Schuyler. It was recorded live at 92Y on November 20, 1989. Ford makes his 92Y debut on Thursday night, reading with John Ashbery. It was Ashbery who shared the stage with Schuyler that night in 1989.
Today is the last day to take advantage of our special National Poetry Month offer of $7.50 tickets—and not just to Ford/Ashbery (April 3), but also to Derek Walcott (April 9) and Michael Ondaatje (April 28).
In his introduction [to a Schuyler reading the year before], Ashbery confessed to feeling a little “jealous” of his friend’s poetry: “He makes sense, dammit, and he manages to do so without falsifying or simplifying the daunting complexity of life as we are living it today.”
Nearly all of Schuyler’s poems develop a delicate mediation between his memories and his experience of the present; often those memories revolve around friends, many of whom would have been present in the audience that night. One can’t overestimate the importance of friendship to his life and poetry, and it must have been moving for all those who had helped him through so many difficulties over so many decades to see him appearing in public and receiving rapturous applause both before he opened his mouth and then after he said his gruff “Thank you” and sat down.