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Jack London - Sublimated Poet
By Flying Fox AKA Ted L Glines
Friday, October 10, 2008
Rated "G" by the Author.
Here is a rare glimpse into Jack London, the writer, the poet, the man who was so far ahead of his time ...
Jack London - Sublimated Poet
by Michael Linnard (CEO, Little Red Tree Publishing)
London was a real "Maverick." He was a professional writer and wrote for money. He was by far the highest paid writer of the first two decades of the 20 century. He wrote poetry, fiction, non-fiction, social and political articles, war reports (from the front!), reviews, plays, songs, etc... He could tell you the price, to the cent, of every word that any publisher, editor, magazine or newspaper of the time would pay at any time or given situation. He played them all like a gambler strokes his favorite deck. If you study his life carefully: the land/property he bought/built and businesses he got involved in, the 35 foot boat he designed and had built and the ranch he designed and built, you begin to understand that this was a man who needed to earn money. I mean earn seriously large amounts of money to fund his life. His urgency and need at times necessitated borrowing short passages of narrative, plots or bits of verse to decorate or adorn his phenomenal daily output, but to him this was all part and parcel of the game. Regrettably, this has plagued his memory and certainly in this country his reputation, in academic circles, but despite this the general public and particularly outside of the USA it remains undiminished. This was of course also heavily weighted by the fact that he was a card carrying Socialist, but ironically his agenda would seem quite acceptable even to most right wing Republican’s today!! His files in both the FBI and CIA are substantial as real evidence of his interest to the accumulators and custodians of secrets. Simply put he was a man far, far ahead of his day - it must have been frustrating for him.
If this comes as a surprise to some people, then our book will astonish you, because it presents an aspect of Jack London that has hitherto been hidden from view: namely that he was a poet.
In fact he desperately wanted to be a published poet (discounting music, his top priority, as out of the question) and assiduously studied poetry 16 hours a day for 3 years, which is testament to his dedication, drive, motivation, and the central place that poetry had in his life. Regrettably, as many poets today realize, he could not make a living from poetry and understandably he gave up the full time pursuit of this goal and decided to concentrate on his third and fourth goal: nonfiction and fiction, but never lost the sensibilities and skills of a poet. This fact, Dan Wichlan’s book asserts, is the true genesis of his writing style. Wichlan claims that he was essentially a poet who wrote fiction and nonfiction, not a writer of fiction and nonfiction who also wrote poetry. The fact that his books are still read today around the world is the self-referencing truth of this because of their wonderful lyrical prose, which has its derivation in his (self-taught) studies in classic prosody. In fact until our book appeared, few, outside of the inner circle of Jack London scholars, were aware of his poetic past, aspirations or the full measure of his poetic output.
There was a great quote from a letter he sent about the time he decided to be a writer "for money" circa 1900, where he said to his friend Anna Strunsky (with whom he was later to co-author a book):
"As to the box. Please take good care of the contents. And don’t mix them up, please. I haven’t written any poetry for months. Those you see are my experiments (studies in structure and meter) and though they be failures I have not surrendered. When I am financially secure, some day, I shall continue with them — unless I have prostituted myself beyond redemption."
This is a wonderful statement of intent and clearly demonstrates his true passion for poetry, to which he fully expected to fulfill but unfortunately the pressures of his life delayed this ultimately until time ran out.
Although in his last years he was beginning to fulfill this intention to return to poetry and had began again to write verse, and published a one act play in verse and another (although it was actually written by a close friend George Sterling) but tragically died in 1916. In less than 18 years he had written 51 books(UTTERLY REMARKABLE ACHIEVEMENT), plus 200 plus short stories, countless other pieces of journalism and reviews, plus responding to a staggering amount of letters and correspondence - possibly as high as 20,000 in a 12 month period. He was prolific, slept no more than 3 or 4 hours a night and he produced 1,000 publishable words a day!!! He died at 40 years of age, having literally worked himself to death. He worked and played somewhere beyond the fast lane, a space that few dare tread or survive: Dylan Thomas, George Orwell come to mind. Regrettably for the world his soul, as a poet, was left unfulfilled by his untimely death. Jack London was an American through and through but one in a group of few that transcend boundaries and is a genuine “world writer.” He belongs to the world!
When you receive the book you will find that it has much more than just his poetry, it contains all the verse he put in his books; 127 of them (108 correctly attributed), inscriptions he wrote on the inside cover of his first editions given to his wives and children, two plays in verse, plus very interesting Appendixes of his prosodic studies, biography, books and indexes.
“The world knows Jack London the adventurer, Jack London the Klondike Argonaut, Jack London the scientific farmer, Jack London the social crusader, and—above all—Jack London the master story–teller. Now, thanks to the remarkable research of Dan Wichlan, the world will know Jack London the poet. Wichlan’s comprehensive collection provides invaluable testimony to yet another measure of this world-famous author’s extraordinary creative genius.”
— Earle Labor, Wilson Professor of American Literature, Centenary College of Louisiana.
“With publication of 'The Complete Poetry of Jack London' Dan Wichlan, an authority on the celebrated author, has rendered a singular service to the study of American Literature. ...Aside from the book’s obvious virtue of being complete and therefore unique, Wichlan’s introductory essay stands as a significant commentary into London’s poetic aspirations. Another commendable inclusion are the extracts from London’s personal logs that depict his study into the mechanics of poetic form. These are priceless glimpses into the workings of an author best known for works of prose – but prose that is infused with poetry.”
— Dale L. Walker, Editor of In a Far Country: Jack London’s Tales of the West, and other London studies.
“A groundbreaking and definitive work that will be welcomed by both general readers and scholars alike. Wichlan not only gathers the complete array of London’s published and unpublished poetry, he examines the poetry of others embe dded in London’s writings. Crisp and apt annotations throughout reveal London’s passion for language, as well as his astute business sense. A modest title covers immense riches.”
— Clarice Stasz, Professor Emerita of History, Sonoma State University, CA.
“A scholarly tour de force, revealing Jack London as never before, this one of a kind study examining his passion for the power of poetry demands that we take a fresh look at an often under-appreciated writer and confirms the importance of his prose style as true art made with words.”
— Marc Goldsmith, Associate Professor of Humanities, Mitchell College, New London, CT
Michael Linnard, MCSD
Little Red Tree Publishing, LLC
635 Ocean Avenue,
New London, CT 06320
Tel: 860 444 0082
Fax: 860 440 2569
Site: The Writing Forum - A Showcase of Poetry
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|Reviewed by m j hollingshead
|Reviewed by Mr. Ed
|I've always been a fan of Jack London - he was truly a master story teller. And I really enjoyed reading your article about him and his poetry, Ted.|
|Reviewed by D. Kenneth Ross
|Having lived in Sonoma County for a number of years I, of course, visited the Jack London tribute and home there near Glenn Ellen. I am certainly aware of his status as a novelist and a complete writer. The fact he was self- taught, encourages me, that he was a student of poetry I suppose should surprise me, but it certainly explains his mastery of words. Thanks Ted, for the insight.|