James Ingram Merrill was born in New York City to Hellen Ingram Merrill and Charles E. Merrill, founding partner of the Merrill Lynch investment firm. He had two older half siblings (a brother and a sister) from his father's first marriage. As a boy, Merrill enjoyed a highly privileged upbringing in economic and educational terms. Merrill's childhood governess taught him French and German, an experience Merrill wrote about in his 1974 poem "Lost in Translation." His parents separated when he was eleven, then divorced when he was thirteen years old. As a teenager, Merrill attended the Lawrenceville School, where he befriended future novelist Frederick Buechner. When Merrill was 16 years old, his father collected his short stories and poems and published them as a surprise under the name Jim's Book. Initially pleased, Merrill would later regard the precocious book as an embarrassment.
Merrill was drafted in 1944 into the United States Army and served for eight months. His studies interrupted by war and military service, Merrill returned to Amherst College in 1945 and graduated in 1947. The Black Swan, a collection of poems Merrill's Amherst professor (and lover) Kimon Friar published privately in Athens, Greece in 1946, was printed in just one hundred copies when Merrill was 20 years old. Merrill's first mature work, The Black Swan is Merrill's scarcest title and considered one of the 20th century's most collectible literary rarities. Merrill's first commercially published volume was First Poems, issued in 990 numbered copies by Alfred A. Knopf in 1951.
James Ingram Merrill (March 3, 1926 - February 6, 1995) was a Pulitzer Prize winning American poet. His father was Charles E. Merrill, founding partner of the Merrill Lynch investment firm. James Merrill's partner of more than three decades was David Jackson, also a writer. Merrill and Jackson met in New York City after a performance of Merrill's "The Bait" in 1953. Together, they moved to Stonington, Connecticut in 1955. For two decades, the couple spent part of each year in Athens, Greece.
David Jackson & James Merrill are both buried at Evergreen Cemetery, Stonington, Connecticut.
James Merrill & Peter Hooten
In his 1993 memoir A Different Person, Merrill painted a candid portrait in his memoir of gay life in the early 50s, describing friendships and relationships with several men including poet Hans Lodeizen, journalist Umberto Morra, writer Claude Fredericks, art dealer Robert Isaacson, and his partner, actor Peter Hooten. The Inner Room is dedicated to Hooten. Includes the celebrated cycle of poems called "Prose of Departure", which describes a visit to Japan while a friend in NYC is dying of AIDS.
The dust jacket for Peter, privately published in 1982, evokes the Merrill Lynch logo. Merrill's partner of more than four decades was David Jackson, also a writer. Merrill and Jackson met in New York City after a performance of Merrill's "The Bait" in 1953. Together, they moved to Stonington, Connecticut in 1955. For two decades, the couple spent part of each year in Athens, Greece. Greek themes, locales, and characters occupy a prominent position in Merrill's writing. In 1979 Merrill and Jackson began spending part of each year at Jackson's home in Key West, Florida. In his 1993 memoir A Different Person, Merrill revealed that he suffered writer's block early in his career and sought psychiatric help to overcome its effects. Merrill painted a candid portrait of gay life in the early 1950s, describing relationships with several men including writer Claude Fredericks, art dealer Robert Isaacson, David Jackson, and his last partner, actor Peter Hooten.
Despite great personal wealth derived from unbreakable trusts made early in his childhood, Merrill lived modestly. A philanthropist, he created the Ingram Merrill Foundation, the name of which united his divorced parents. The private foundation operated during the poet's lifetime and subsidized literature, the arts, and public television. Merrill was close to poet Elizabeth Bishop and filmmaker Maya Deren, giving critical financial assistance to both (while providing money to many other writers, often anonymously). Merrill served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1979 until his death. While vacationing in Arizona, he died on February 6, 1995 from a heart attack related to AIDS.
Beginning with the prestigious Glascock Prize, awarded for "The Black Swan" when he was an undergraduate, Merrill would go on to receive every major poetry award in the United States, including the 1977 Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for Divine Comedies. Merrill was honored in mid-career with the Bollingen Prize in 1973. He would receive the National Book Critics Circle Award in 1983 for his epic poem The Changing Light at Sandover (composed partly of supposedly supernatural messages received via the use of a Ouija board). In 1990, he received the first Bobbitt National Prize for Poetry awarded by the Library of Congress for The Inner Room. He was awarded the National Book Award for Nights and Days in 1967 and again in 1979 for Mirabell: Books of Number.
A writer of elegance and wit, highly adept at wordplay and puns, Merrill was a master of traditional poetic meter and form who nevertheless produced significant quantities of free and blank verse. Though not generally considered a Confessionalist poet, James Merrill made frequent use of personal relationships to fuel his "chronicles of love & loss" (as the speaker in Mirabell called his work). The divorce of Merrill's parents — the sense of disruption, followed by a sense of seeing the world "doubled" or in two ways at once — figures prominently in the poet's verse. Merrill did not hesitate to alter small autobiographical details to improve a poem's logic, or to serve an environmental, aesthetic, or spiritual theme.
As Merrill matured, the polished and taut brilliance of his early work yielded to a more informal, relaxed voice. Already established in the 1970s among the finest poets of his generation, Merrill made a surprising detour when he began incorporating occult messages into his work. The result, a 560-page apocalyptic epic published as The Changing Light at Sandover (1982), documents two decades of messages dictated from otherworldly spirits during Ouija séances hosted by Merrill and his partner David Noyes Jackson. The Changing Light at Sandover is one of the longest epics in any language, and features the voices of recently deceased poet W. H. Auden, Merrill's late friends Maya Deren and Greek socialite Maria Mitsotáki, as well has heavenly beings including the Archangel Michael. Channeling voices through a Ouija board "made me think twice about the imagination," Merrill later explained. "If the spirits aren't external, how astonishing the mediums become! Victor Hugo said of his voices that they were like his own mental powers multiplied by five."
Following the publication of The Changing Light at Sandover, Merrill returned to writing shorter poetry which could be both whimsical and nostalgic: "Self-Portrait in TYVEK Windbreaker" (for example) is a conceit inspired by a windbreaker jacket Merrill purchased from "one of those vaguely imbecile / Emporia catering to the collective unconscious / Of our time and place." The Tyvek windbreaker — "DuPont contributed the seeming-frail, / Unrippable stuff first used for Priority Mail" — is "white with a world map." "A zipper's hiss, and the Atlantic Ocean closes / Over my blood-red T-shirt from the Gap."
Burial: North Stonington Cemetery, North Stonington, New London County, Connecticut, USA
David Noyes Jackson (September 16, 1922 – July 13, 2001) was the life partner of poet James Merrill (1926–1995). A writer and artist, Jackson is remembered today primarily for his literary collaboration with Merrill. (P: James Merrill (1926-1995) and David Jackson (1922-2001) in Athens, 14 October 1973, Judith Moffett)
The two men met in May 1953 in New York City, after a performance of Merrill's play, "The Bait." They shared homes in Stonington, CT, Athens, and Key West. "It was, I often thought, the happiest marriage I knew," wrote Alison Lurie, who got to know both men in the 1950s and thought enough of the relationship to write a memoir about it more than forty years later, Familiar Spirits (2001).
Over the course of decades conducting séances with a Ouija board, Merrill and Jackson took down supernatural transcriptions and messages from otherworldly entities. Merrill's and Jackson's ouija transcriptions were first published in verse form in The Book of Ephraim (printed for the first time in Divine Comedies, 1976, which was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1977).
Many critics consider David Jackson to be a kind of co-writer, certainly the catalyst if not the medium, for much of James Merrill's most significant poetic output. The Book of Ephraim (1976), Mirabell: Books of Number (1978), and Scripts for the Pageant (1980) were all written with Jackson's assistance. Together, they constitute the epic trilogy The Changing Light at Sandover, a 560-page apocalyptic poem published in its entirety in 1982.
Peter Hooten (born November 29, 1950 as John Peter Hooten in Clermont, Florida); is an American actor and producer. Hooten attended Ithaca College in upstate New York. He first started acting in 1969 when he guest-starred on the TV drama Marcus Welby, M.D. and worked his way up from there. Since then his other acting credits have included playing the Marvel character of the same name in the TV film Dr. Strange from 1978, and guest starring in various Movies and Television series like The Waltons, Mod Squad and Mannix.
After 16 years in New York City, and some time in Connecticut, he moved to St. Augustine, FL. Hooten currently resides in Sarasota where he lives in a modest 1924 Indian Beach cottage.
"I felt really good and I worked a long time on it," Hooten says, lingering over a double espresso and chocolate cake in the dining room at the Sarasota Ritz-Carlton. "And I got really good people together. And we shot it in Cambridge; it was the right atmosphere. … It's not mainstream, but God, it was a labor of love. So who's going to see that? But it will be in the libraries when Inglorious Bastards goes bye-bye. Nobody's going to remember anybody for that." http://cltampa.com/dailyloaf/archives/2009/08/19/a-spaghetti-war-film-classic-sarasotas-peter-hooten-on-his-role-in-the-original-inglorious-bastards#.U8ENrtEg_4h
Days of Love: Celebrating LGBT History One Story at a Time by Elisa Rolle
Paperback: 760 pages
Publisher: CreateSpace Independent Publishing Platform; 1 edition (July 1, 2014)
CreateSpace Store: https://www.createspace.com/4910282
Amazon (Paperback): http://www.amazon.com/dp/1500563323/?tag=e
Amazon (Kindle): http://www.amazon.com/dp/B00MZG0VHY/?tag=e
Days of Love chronicles more than 700 LGBT couples throughout history, spanning 2000 years from Alexander the Great to the most recent winner of a Lambda Literary Award. Many of the contemporary couples share their stories on how they met and fell in love, as well as photos from when they married or of their families. Included are professional portraits by Robert Giard and Stathis Orphanos, paintings by John Singer Sargent and Giovanni Boldini, and photographs by Frances Benjamin Johnson, Arnold Genthe, and Carl Van Vechten among others. “It's wonderful. Laying it out chronologically is inspired, offering a solid GLBT history. I kept learning things. I love the decision to include couples broken by death. It makes clear how important love is, as well as showing what people have been through. The layout and photos look terrific.” Christopher Bram “I couldn’t resist clicking through every page. I never realized the scope of the book would cover centuries! I know that it will be hugely validating to young, newly-emerging LGBT kids and be reassured that they really can have a secure, respected place in the world as their futures unfold.” Howard Cruse “This international history-and-photo book, featuring 100s of detailed bios of some of the most forward-moving gay persons in history, is sure to be one of those bestsellers that gay folk will enjoy for years to come as reference and research that is filled with facts and fun.” Jack Fritscher
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