On this day, January 29th, three absurdly talented writers died in 1933, 1963 and 2004 respectively. American poet Sara Teasdale committed suicide in new York when she overdosed on sleeping pills. American poet Robert Frost died of natural causes in Boston at the age of 88. New Zealand born writer Janet Frame died in Dunedin after succumbing to Leukemia. She was 79 years old.
Sara Teasdale published her first volume of poetry, Sonnets to Duse, and Other Poems, at the age of 23 and was rather well received by critics who commended her mastery over lyrical verse. Ms. Teasdale was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1918 for her work Love Songs. If you are unfamiliar with her hauntingly beautiful poetry, please follow this link to get better acquainted. Our favorite body of work by Teasdale is Rivers to the Sea, published in 1915.
It is a shame that she ended her life so abruptly at the age of 49 - we would have loved to read her work as she matured. Teasdale was inducted into the St. Louis Walk of Fame in 1994.
Now, onto Frost. Robert Frost is one of the most recognized names in American literature and it’s no wonder… reading his poetry is like viewing a landscape or a painting… there’s always more to see.
In 1912, at almost forty years old, it may surprise you to know that he had only a few poems published and Frost made a decision to move his family to England where he took a chance at living life as a poet. Lucky for him, this gamble turned out to be successful and in 1913, he published “A Boy’s Will” which was extremely well received. By the time he returned to the States, he had published North of Boston and like Salinger, he was quite embarrassed by his sudden fame. Frost received the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry in 1924, 1931, 1937 and again in 1943. He was also awarded the Emerson Thoreau Medal in 1958.
Janet Frame is the author of over ten novels, several short stories including autobiographical works and two incredible volumes of poetry. There is just far too much biographical information for us to reprint here… she lived a full and unusual life. The film An Angel at my Table is based on the life of Ms. Frame. And we highly recommend her autobiography, published in 1989.
We will say, that her unique experiences in the mental health system and the various tragedies suffered in her youth, certainly have a place in her writing. Owls Do Cry was her first novel, published in 1957, was written over the course of four years, following her release from Seacliff Lunatic Asylum where she was being treated for schizophrenia. It would later be revealed that she did not suffer from schizophrenia at all.
While all of Frame’s novels are incredible reads not to be missed, we must recommend a volume of poetry published in 1967 called The Pocket Mirror… You will discover senses you never knew you had. The imagery Frame uses to evoke the tumultuous nature of the agony within the human mind is spine tingling and sometimes… a little sinister.
Today, keep these three poets in mind… while vastly different in style, all three explored similar themes… love, loss and sometimes a little lunacy. Read a poem by each poet and then add one of your own to the mix! Host a reading tonight with some friends… read a poem a piece.
Write on in peace, Ms. Teasdale, Mr. Frost and Ms. Frame!
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