Monday, May 31, 2010

Louis Untermeyer read here

Food and Drink, a book of poems by Louis Untermeyer, was published by Harcourt, Brace and Company in 1932. This copy of the book has an inscription from a previous owner that claims Untermeyer was in Huntsville, Texas reading from a manuscript copy before the book was actually published. On the blank page following the front endpapers is the original owner's name, Emma something, and Emma recorded the place and date of purchase--Huntsville, Texas, March 3, 1932.

A taped newspaper clipping of a poem by Gerald Raftery has created, over the decades, a mirrored browning (acid) on the title page it was closed against, but the inscription beneath is still readable. The handwriting looks different from Emma's script. It could be that whomever inherited the book wanted to record a bit of history about Untermeyer and these poems. It is written under the publisher's acknowledgements about certain poems in this volume:
Several of these poems were read in Huntsville by Louis Untermeyer from manuscript early in 1932--before this book was published.

Untermeyer was an author, poet, anthologist, and editor and the fourteenth U.S. Poet Laureate, serving 1961-1963. I was familiar with him because of his friendship and correspondence with Robert Frost.

Huntsville is up the road from Houston an hour or so and the home of Sam Houston State University. I imagine that as the likely place for a reading in 1932, unless Untermeyer knew a local bookseller and appeared as a favor.

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