On this date the great American poet AMY LOWELL died. Lowell (b: 1874) never attended college because it was not deemed proper for a woman by her family, but she compensated for this with her avid reading, which led to near-obsessive book-collecting. She lived as a socialite and traveled widely, turning to poetry in 1902.
Her first published work appeared in 1910 in the Atlantic Monthly. The first published collection of her poetry, A Dome of Many–Coloured Glass, appeared two years later. Lowell was rather open about her Lesbianism. She and actress Ada Dwyer Russell were lovers. Russell was Lowell’s patron and the subject of Lowell’s more erotic work. The two women traveled together. Lowell has also been linked romantically to writer Mercedes de Acosta. Lowell was an imposing figure who kept her hair in a bun and wore a pince-nez.
She, like Obama Supreme Court nominee Elena Kagan (just sayin’) smoked cigars constantly, claiming that they lasted longer than cigarettes. Her writing also included critical works on French literature and a biography of John Keats. Lowell’s fetish for Keats is well-recorded. Lowell was also an early adherent to the “free verse” method of poetry. Lowell died of a cerebral hemorrhage in 1925 at the age of fifty-one. The following year, she was awarded the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry for What’s O’Clock.
Forgotten for years, there has been a resurgence of interest in her work, in part because of its focus on Lesbian themes and her collection of love poems addressed to Ada Dwyer Russell, but also because of its extraordinary, almost frightening, ability to breathe life into inanimate objects, such as in “The Green Bowl,” “The Red Lacquer Music Stand,” and “Patterns.”