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"a dirty hand"

The Literary Notebooks of Winfield Townley Scott

By Winfield Townley Scott

These perceptive notes, some tart, some gentle, some boisterous, some wistful, give us a remarkable insight into the workings of an American poet's creative mind.

1969

$19.95$13.37

33% website discount price

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Paperback

6 x 9 | 176 pp.

ISBN: 978-0-292-74165-2

From "a dirty hand":

Words are very powerful. You aren't sure of that? Think of all the things you won't say.

  • Wonderful remark in a note I had this week from William Carlos Williams. He spoke of the "disease" of wanting to write poetry; said he had been "off" poetry for many months and—he said—"I feel clean and unhappy."
  • One reason for keeping this kind of notebook: you can put on record the retort you couldn't think of at last night's party.
  • Photographs of Henry James in his middle years should be commented upon. Gone is the shy aesthete of the youthful portrait (by LaFarge?) . This bearded man has a fierce look, even a bestial one. Here is perhaps-I don't know-James at his most generative. Again this man disappears in the shaven, bald, final James, the famous James—the Grand Lama.
  • I noticed when Lindsay (thirteen) read aloud a passage from a hunting book the other day he pronounced "genital" as "genteel." I'd love to see a literary history titled "The Genital Tradition."
  • Contrast "business ethics" and the ethics of art. Nobody writes a poem hoping it will wear out in four or five years.

Between 1951 and 1966 the distinguished American poet Winfield Townley Scott kept a series of notebooks in which he set down his thoughts on poetry, literature, the literary scene, and life in general. Shortly before his untimely death in 1968 he made a selection of the entries he thought were best and gave it the title "a dirty hand." These perceptive notes, some tart, some gentle, some boisterous, some wistful, give us a remarkable insight into the workings of his creative mind. George P. Elliott has said of Scott: "In a very solid way, I think he was as rock-bottom American a poet as we have had since Frost." The introduction is by Scott's good friend Merle Armitage, who also designed the original edition of this book.