James Schuyler Biography

Biography

Born in Chicago to a family with extensive roots in the United States, James Marcus Schuyler grew up in Washington, D.C., and Buffalo and East Aurora, New York, the family seat to which he returned. He attended Bethany College in West Virginia, served in the U.S. Navy in World War II, and worked for Voice of America in New York City before traveling to Italy, where he attended the University of Florence and lived in W. H. Auden’s house in Ischia, typing some of the elder poet’s manuscripts (as he notes in his obituary poem, “Wystan Auden”). After he returned to New York in the early 1950’s, he became involved in art and poetry circles and took a curatorial position in the Department of Circulating Exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, organizing a number of shows. He also served as associate editor of Art News, for which O’Hara and Ashbery also worked. Together, and with a number of other young poets, they changed the poetry scene in New York and became a major force in contemporary American poetry. Close friends as well as colleagues, they often have referred to one another in their books and poems and sometimes collaborated. Painters and musicians are included in this group; various artist friends of Schuyler not only are mentioned in his poems but also have contributed cover illustrations for several of his books. Schuyler suffered personal traumas in the 1970’s, and his recovery from a nervous breakdown is recorded in The Morning of the Poem; he also sustained severe burns after falling asleep while smoking in bed. Nevertheless, in the late 1970’s, he began reading publicly for the first time. Schuyler died in New York City in 1991 after suffering a stroke.

Biography

Born in Chicago to a family with extensive roots in America, James Marcus Schuyler (SKI-lur) grew up in Washington, D.C., Buffalo, and East Aurora, New York, the family seat to which he returned. He attended Bethany College in West Virginia, served in the Navy in World War II, and worked for Voice of America in New York City before traveling to Italy, where he attended the University of Florence and lived in W. H. Auden’s house in Ischia, typing some of the elder poet’s manuscripts (as he notes in his obituary poem, “Wystan Auden”). After he returned to New York in the early 1950’s, he became involved in art and poetry circles and took a curatorial position in the Department of Circulating Exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, organizing a number of shows. He also served as associate editor of Art News, for which Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery also worked; together, and with a number of other young poets, they changed the poetry scene in New York and became a major force in contemporary American poetry. Close friends as well as colleagues, they often referred to one another in their books and poems and sometimes collaborated. Painters and musicians are included in this group; various artist friends of Schuyler are not only mentioned in his poems but also contributed cover illustrations for several of his books. Schuyler suffered personal traumas in the 1970’s, and his recovery from a nervous breakdown is recorded in poems in The Morning of the Poem; he also sustained severe burns after falling asleep while smoking in bed. Nevertheless, in the late 1970’s he began reading publicly for the first time. Schuyler died in New York City in 1991 after suffering a stroke.

Schuyler was a keen observer of the most intimate details of the world around him and of the sensations they evoked in him. His poetry captures those detailed impressions and sensations, however ephemeral they may be. This very ephemerality is the singular distinction of his world, particularly in his presentation of nature. The...

(The entire section is 836 words.)