Fainting and Robert Frost

Stumbled from a friend’s IM profile link to The Atlantic’s homepage to this great piece: “Casanova’s first orgasm, Hitler’s famous mustache, Bob Hope’s last jokes: for every thing, there is a season. Herewith a compilation of great moments in precocity, endurance, and procrastination, organized instructively by age.”

At 28, Tennessee Williams takes his state name.

At 70, we get our Frost. “Robert Frost gets the young Truman Capote fired from his job at The New Yorker after he walks out of one of Frost’s poetry readings, 1944.” Google Books helps with Capote interviews.

B: You said Robert Frost was the meanest man you ever met. Could you give me an example of how he was mean to you?

C: When I was about eighteen years old there was a thing called the Bread Loaf Writers Conference. I was invited up there and the great mogul of the thing was Robert Frost. You know, a glob of all these old Midwestern ladies and librarians and what not, oohing and ahhing and carrying on — he was such a ham. Anyway, one rainy day I stepped into this sort of barn — he was in this barn escaping from the rain — and the two of us had a little conversation. And I think he thought that I wasn’t particularly awed by Mr. Frost, or something. Anyway, the chemistry was not particularly good. But the next day he had a poetry reading and I had the flu and I said I wasn’t going to come. The director of the conference said to me that Mr. Frost was furious and thought I was insulting him. And so I said: “Well, I’ll come but I’ve really got this fever.” So I went, and about half way through the thing I felt so badly I thought I was going to faint, because it was terribly hot. So I got up and tried to ease along this aisle to go out the door. And Frost picked up this book and he threw it at me as hard as he could. And [chuckles] shouted, I don’t know, something. And he refused to go on with the reading. And I went back to my room and the director of the conference came and asked me would I leave immediately because Mr. Frost was so upset about it. And with the flu and a fever of 103 I had to leave there. And then Robert Frost wrote a letter to The New Yorker Magazine and got lots of other people at the conference to write, saying how insulting I had been, as though I were representing The New Yorker. The New Yorker had nothing to do with it, you know, except that I worked there.

B: Did he hit you with the book?

C: Yep.


One thought on “Fainting and Robert Frost”

  1. When I was 16 and attended Bread Loaf, I would have been happy if any famous writer had hit me with a book, since everyone else was busy telling me my poetry sucked. The take their Frost very, very seriously in Vermont.

    PS — I sang in that barn.

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