Further Examples Of Crosby

’s Poetry Essay, Research Paper

[Cary Nelson’s foonote for Crosby in Repression

and Recovery suggested that his writing may have been more various than had been

heretofore recognized. As he states: "Although Crosby is now almost exclusively

identified with an apolitical experimental modernism, his identity was more contested

during his life. His radical rejection of conventional American values, for example, gave

his work definite appeal on the left. See those of his poems anthologized in Ralph Cheyney

and Jack Conroy, eds. Unrest: The Rebel Poets’ Anthology for 1929 (London:

Arthur H. Stockwell, 1929) and Unrest: The Rebel Poets’ Anthology for 1930

(London: Braithwaite and Miller, 1930)" (from Repression and Recovery.

Madison: U Wisconsin P, 1989, p. 309).]

These anthology poems underscore different Crosbys. The

ten poems in the 1929 selection are apolitical experimental poems that are on the verge of

becoming modernist love lyrics. The single selection for 1930, however, is blunt and

dismissive, in the vein of Crosby’s anti-paean to Boston, "Target for

Disgust." These somewhat opposite sides of Crosby are on display in this selection.

Crosby Radicalized

The Erotic Crosby: Caresse Crosby’s

Sleeping Together

[On the boat from France to America in 1929, Crosby

copied in long hand the prose poems entitled Sleeping Together as a gift to

Caresse. A few days later, and shortly before his death, he jotted down this diary entry:

Transit of Venus (for Josephine)

Sleeping Together (for Caresse)

(these are the two books I have written which

are damn good the others can go to hell)

(After Harry’s death, when a typist had

transcribed these working diaries, Caresse scratched out the phrase "(for


One of the prose poems in holograph is reproduced

below, followed by its transcription. Typical of the texts in Sleeping Together,

it wants to yoke together an impassioned eroticism with a surrealistic imagery. Even when

Crosby is employing a language that is marked by violence, he retains an underlying

element of sweetness and even tenderness – a surprising combination that must have

been immensely affecting.]

"White Stockings"

Crosby in Tirade Mode

[The typescript of "Target for Disgust" is

reproduced below. It is one of a number of Crosby’s poems that depend upon a display

of anger. Neither satirical nor parodic, they are in an odd way pleasantly flamboyant: the

thunderbolts they hurl are vivid and flash with lightning, but they are not designed to be

sharp and cutting. Such poetry takes enough pleasure in its own performance that it can be

admired for its robustness – the exact spirit of which is missing from Boston and

whose absence has prompted this indictment.]

Typescript of Target for Disgust

Reproduced with the Permission of Special


Morris Library, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale


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