Edward Brunner: Crosby’s "Rivals": A Brief Selection of Atlantic Monthly Poems in the 1920s

Crosby’s biographer Geoffrey Wolff disclosed that Crosby all his life submitted poems to the Atlantic Monthly. Wolff writes: "Usually his poems were turned down flat, without comment, but a few came close. One rejection, dated October 25, 1927, and signed by the Atlantic Monthly Company, is representative. It reads, in part: ‘To us, the difficulty with the sonnet seems that the questions invited are such that it is hardly surprising no answer is given. And if we may put our own question, is the rhyme of the last line of "Study for a Soul" permissible?’"

According to Wolff, Crosby submitted groups of poems on fifteen occasions to the magazine. The Atlantic Monthly only a small amount of verse over the course of a year – about two dozen poems. No doubt to appear in such exclusive company was appealing, and perhaps Crosby dreamed of making a splash in his own neighborhood. The magazine was, after all, published in Boston, and he had a connection there in his classmate Ellery Sedgewick. To understand why Crosby’s submissions were at best very long shots indeed, here is a sample of verse that the editors found suitable for printing in the period when Crosby was submitting his work.

The dialect poetry accurately reproduces the magazine’s investment in such work: in both 1925 and 1929, the editors published not just one or two poems in dialect but dialect poetry in groups of three "songs." In both instances, the writers were identified as women from the south, allied with a plantation. As for the other poets, Archibald MacLeish was, in the 1920s, the brash young Harvard graduate who had turned away from his employment at the Choate Law Firm to pursue an artistic career in Paris; Harry knew him in Paris and published his work. Bliss Carman was a member of the "Vagabond" group, a loose gathering of kindred spirits in the Whitman tradition that were a fresh nativist response to the British decadents – the "Vagabonds" were healthy nature poets – and, in their emphasis on life-style and freedom from constraint, genteel precusrors of the Beats.

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Title Edward Brunner: Crosby’s "Rivals": A Brief Selection of Atlantic Monthly Poems in the 1920s Type of Content General Poet Criticism
Criticism Author Edward Brunner Criticism Target Harry Crosby
Criticism Type Poet Originally Posted 09 Jul 2021
Publication Status Original Criticism Publication No Data
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