Some writers leave only traces, contrails across the literary firmament. They expire with few or no publications to their names, their legacies left as much to chance as to the efforts of the occasional passionate admirer. Contemporaries offer testimonies of superlative talent unfulfilled, of death robbing posterity of a name that, given time and circumstance, surely would have been added to the rolls of the great. And while some work might survive, appearing in the occasional anthology, it is shrouded in the pall of its author’s biography. Samuel Greenberg belongs in the pantheon of literary manqués. He’s not totally forgotten—a few hundred poems survive; some were published in posthumous editions. In the 95 years since his death at the age of 23, he has endured as the prototypical “cult writer,” his works passed around like samizdat and occasionally earning an ardent, powerful admirer.
more from Jacob Silverman at Poetry here.