Robert Lowell

50"x34", Collage on paper, monotype and pastel. 
Price on request.

Man and Wife

Tamed by MILTOWN
We lay on mother’s bed....

I was Lowell’s student three years. At 19, I spent a year at McLean Hospital on the same ward he frequented, Bowditch, maximum security for men. We had an understanding. When I was at McLean, the same attendant Lowell wrote about in Waking in the Blue. He would pull the poem out of his wallet the way other men would show you pictures of their children, with the same ardor, point to the poem, and say, “that’s me!” 
I could have cared less. 

Lowell gave me the opening lines of Man and Wife, a violent, game changing poem from the 1950s, shifting poetry’s material toward the confessional. He laughed maniacally and said "Have fun with that...".

As much as he was imposing, I always felt a child residing inside, which gave me the idea of the stick figures. The black and blues, the red, capture the intensity and dark quality of the man, of his poem. In the red window, in the lower right, are his tangled words.  In class, I didn’t understand at first why the women got more attention than the few men. He read his work well. Most poets don’t. WhenI graduated, he offered me a job at his estate in England. He asked if I could manage a farm. I said of course, not knowing the first thing about England, or farms. I felt I could learn. When Elizabeth Bishop heard about this, she put a stop to it.



<< click here to return to The Written Image