What queer lives we’ve had even for poets!


On June 11, 2005, The New York Times ran a correction: “A picture in Weekend yesterday with the Books of The Times review, about ‘The Letters of Robert Lowell,’ was published in error. It showed the columnist Murray Kempton, who died in 1997, not the poet.” Accidents happen, or mistakes: it wasn’t made clear how the face of the acerbic columnist was substituted for the face of the famous poet. As errors go, this one could hardly approach the Times obituary for Herman Melville, in 1891, which identified the forgotten author as “Henry Melville.” Nonetheless, it seemed starkly to register a slippage in Lowell’s reputation since his death in 1977, a change of status remarked by many reviewers, including loyal friends and defenders such as Helen Vendler and Jonathan Raban.

more from Agni here.