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Hart Crane by Carl Schmitt

HART CRANE (1899 1932)

The American modernist poet's death was as enigmatic as the words he put to paper. His life and legacy has influenced a wide spectrum of the art world in both playwrights Eugene O'Neill and Tennessee Williams, the artist Marsden Hartley and the poet Gertrude Stein.

In 1932, an inebriated Hart Crane jumped ship enroute to New York City after being beaten for making sexual advances toward a sailor. "Goodbye, everyone!" were his parting words. Lost At Sea is carved on his father's gravestone.

He was enamored with the work of T.S. Eliot in the same manner that future writers would obsess over him. He spent his glory days in the periphery of the Provincetown Players when they later settled at their MacDougal Street, Greenwich Viilage Headquarters where he befriended characters like O'Neill, Djuna Barnes and Players' secretary Fitzi. The great art patron Otto Kahn helped keep him alive during this period.

Every word of his work has been combed through with a fine-toothed comb trying to decipher what it was exactly he was trying to say. Some critics felt empty while others have put him on a pedestal with the great French poets Baudelaire and Rimbaud. While attempting to fulfill a promise to write the intro to the 1926 collection, White Buildings, O'Neill threw up his hands when he couldn't figure out what the fuck Crane was talking about.

Years after his death, Tennesse Williams drew inspiration from Hart Crane's poetry while completing his masterwork, A Streetcar Named Desire while in Provincetown.

Crane is also remembered for his prolific letter writing campaigns.



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