Born in Evanston, Illinois, and raised in Winnetka, Illinois. He attended the School of the Art Institute of Chicago and the University of Illinois. At eighteen he had already published poems in "Poetry", which was one of the leading poetry magazines in America at the time. He pursued painting in Paris, France, in the 1940s, and then worked as an editor, art critic, curator and exhibiting artist in New York City. In the 1950s he was active in San Francisco's poetry scene, although he was not a Beat poet. The New York Times published his poetry on five separate occasions in 1968 and 1969. He taught at the Academy of Art University in San Francisco in the late 1980s and '90s.
Many years later, he was stabbed in the chest by a "fag basher", and also suffered a broken wrist while engaged in what a friend described as "S&M games with a trick."
Pomeroy died of cirrhosis of the liver in San Francisco in the fall of 1999.
Throughout his writing career he published essays, monographs, catalogs, three poetry collections and an illustrated book of poems with Andy Warhol entitled "A La Recherche du Shoe Perdu". One of his books was about painter Theodoros Stamos. His friend, Edward Field, discusses his life in his book: The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag and Other Intimate Portraits of the Bohemian Era (2007, University of Wisconsin Press). In an article for the "The Gay & Lesbian Review," (July-August, 2005, Volume 11 Issue 4), Field notes that the openly gay Pomeroy was accepted by Yaddo 1955, "where he scandalized the sedate arts colony by having an open affair with painter Clifford Wright." There was a scandal involving poet Robert Lowell who is said to have been seduced by Charles Sebree and caused a federal raid on Yaddo at the height of the Senator Joseph McCarthy witch hunt. Clifford was arrested in the raid and feared that the names of his homosexual friends would be exposed. When Clifford returned to Yaddo he had an affair with Ralph Pomeroy.
The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag: And Other Intimate Literary Portraits of the Bohemian Era (Living Out: Gay and Lesbian Autobiog) by Edward Field
Paperback: 302 pages
Publisher: University of Wisconsin Press; 1 edition (January 31, 2007)
Amazon: The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag: And Other Intimate Literary Portraits of the Bohemian Era
Long before Stonewall, young Air Force veteran Edward Field, fresh from combat in WWII, threw himself into New York’s literary bohemia, searching for fulfillment as a gay man and poet. In this vivid account of his avant-garde years in Greenwich Village and the bohemian outposts of Paris’s Left Bank and Tangier—where you could write poetry, be radical, and be openly gay—Field opens the closet door to reveal, as never been seen before, some of the most important writers of his time.
Here are young, beautiful Susan Sontag sitting at the feet of her idol Alfred Chester, who shrewdly plotted to marry her; May Swenson and her two loves; Paul and Jane Bowles in their ambiguous marriage; Frank O’Hara in and out of bed; Fritz Peters, the anointed son of Gurdjieff; and James Baldwin, Isabel Miller (Patience and Sarah), Tobias Schneebaum, Robert Friend, and many others. With its intimate portraits, Field’s memoir brings back a forgotten era—postwar bohemia—bawdy, comical, romantic, sad, and heroic.
Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade by Justin Spring
Paperback: 496 pages
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux; First Edition edition (July 19, 2011)
Amazon: Secret Historian: The Life and Times of Samuel Steward, Professor, Tattoo Artist, and Sexual Renegade
Drawn from the secret, never-before-seen diaries, journals, and sexual records of the novelist, poet, and university professor Samuel M. Steward, Secret Historian is a sensational reconstruction of one of the more extraordinary hidden lives of the twentieth century. An intimate friend of Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, and Thornton Wilder, Steward maintained a secret sex life from childhood on, and documented these experiences in brilliantly vivid (and often very funny) detail.
After leaving the world of academe to become Phil Sparrow, a tattoo artist on Chicago’s notorious South State Street, Steward worked closely with Alfred Kinsey on his landmark sex research. During the early 1960s, Steward changed his name and identity once again, this time to write exceptionally literate, upbeat pro-homosexual pornography under the name of Phil Andros.
Until today he has been known only as Phil Sparrow—but an extraordinary archive of his papers, lost since his death in 1993, has provided Justin Spring with the material for an exceptionally compassionate and brilliantly illuminating life-and-times biography. More than merely the story of one remarkable man, Secret Historian is a moving portrait of homosexual life long before Stonewall and gay liberation.
Secret Historian is a 2010 National Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction.
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