Thursday, April 5, 2012

David Schubert, TR5-3718

This listing comes from the 1940 Brooklyn telephone directory, available at Direct Me NYC 1940. David Schubert (1913–1946) is a great modern American poet, though his work is still little known. William Carlos Williams: “To sit down for a little while and reread some of Schubert’s rare and poignant verse is like opening a window in a room that had become stuffy without one’s realizing it.” John Ashbery: “I myself value Schubert more than Pound or Eliot, and it’s a relief to have an authority of the stature of Williams to back me up.” I found my way to Schubert by chance in 1994 when I picked up a used copy of the 1983 Quarterly Review of Literature volume devoted to his work. I remembered his name from a passing reference in Ron Padgett’s Ted: A Personal Memoir of Ted Berrigan (1993): “[he] was especially pleased to see David Schubert’s work collected and reissued.”

How do I know that Schubert D is the poet? Judith Schubert Kranes, quoted in the QRL volume: “We moved to Brooklyn Heights, David found us a one-room apartment in a neighborhood where Hart Crane had lived, and where many writers and artists were finding a haven.” And John Ashbery: “During the 1930s, they lived in a picturesque garret in Brooklyn Heights overlooking New York Harbor.” Pierpont is directoryese for Pierrepont Street, a street in Brooklyn Heights, not very far from the Brooklyn Bridge. If Google Maps may be trusted, no. 6 is indeed picturesque, garret and all. You can click on the picture for a better look at the tiny window at the top of the building.

And here, as transcribed by Allison Power, are four Schubert samples.

April 8: The 1940 census confirms that David and Judith Schubert lived at 6 Pierrepont Street. He: “writer.” She: “teacher.”

[The Ashbery and Williams quotations are from Ashbery’s Charles Eliot Norton lecture on Schubert in Other Traditions (2000).]

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