May Sarton was sickened almost to death by a bad review of her poetry in the New York Times Book Review. The review by Karl Shapiro, which appeared on Christmas Even, said, "May Sarton is a bad poet." She decided to give up on public acclaim and moved to a house in New Hampshire, where she began writing Plant Dreaming Deep, and then Journal of a Solitude. The next move was to a house in York, Maine.
Journal of a Solitude (1973) was a feminist classic, passed from hand to hand among women writers in the 1970's. In it, May Sarton wrote about the struggles and beauties of being a woman writer living alone. In this writing, she is still a model for many writers and artists, male and female.
May Sarton never got the recognition she craved as a poet. That's why I edited a collection of essays by poets on May Sarton's poetry. The authors include William Stafford, Linda Pastan, Aleida Rodriguez, Bobby Caudle Rogers, and many other fine poets. The collection is called A House of Gathering: Poets on May Sarton's Poetry (UT Press, 1985). May Sarton gave me photos and rough drafts of manuscripts for the book. She seemed truly delighted with the book.
Perhaps renouncing fame is the beginning of soul speech. In any event, when May Sarton gave up on New York, her real life as a writer began.
Causes Marilyn Kallet Supports
Southern Poverty Law Center, US Holocaust Memorial Museum, ACLU, Amnesty International, Save Darfur.