My Friend Tom: The Poet-Playwright Tennessee Williams by William Jay Smith

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By William Jay Smith

Tennessee Williams (1911-1983) was once essentially the most acclaimed, well known, and arguable American playwrights of the 20th century. The Glass Menagerie, A Streetcar Named Desire, and Cat on a scorching Tin Roof are all thought of classics of contemporary theatre, and their characters and occasions are iconic representations of the postwar South.

In his early years, Williams centred his literary skills simply as closely on poetry as on performs. observing over him in this severe studying interval was once his shut buddy William Jay Smith (b. 1918), who met Williams in St. Louis as either have been embarking on careers as writers. Smith might pass directly to submit 13 collections of poetry and an epic series of poems describing the compelled removing of Indian tribes east of the Mississippi. either Smith and Williams have been affected profoundly by means of thoughts of adolescence and early life in Louisiana and Mississippi, and people reviews formed their next, mature paintings after they moved out of the South.

My good friend Tom is instantaneously Smith's severe research of Williams's early paintings in poetry and drama, a quick biography of Williams in the course of his improvement levels as a author, and a relocating meditation on his friend's profession from Williams's early disasters and ambiguities to popularity and notoriety. Smith offers in-depth appears on the inception, improvement, and reception (both advertisement and demanding) of such early Williams efforts as Candles to the Sun and Fugitive Kind, and later Battle of Angels. utilizing his personal correspondence with Williams, modern newspaper bills, and again problems with long-dissolved literary journals, Smith re-creates Williams's younger efforts and lines, wistfully and adroitly, his personal tough passage into the realm of letters.

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Additional info for My Friend Tom: The Poet-Playwright Tennessee Williams

Sample text

My lover sleeps. And then a few lines further on: I see the silver arrow of the dawn on the heels of the night. Hail, Dawn! I salute you! Hail, rising sun! Hail Ever-Conquering Worm That Eats All But The Sky! For a less florid effort, “Sonnets for the Spring,” Tom received first prize in a poetry contest at the Wednesday Club. The award was presented to him on his birthday, March 26, 1936, in the same auditorium where Candles to the Sun would appear almost exactly a year later. It had been established in 1925 by the celebrated poet Sara Teasdale, whom Tom greatly admired.

Shortly after completing the story he accompanied Rose downtown to the movies at the Loew’s State Theater and on the way back home in a service car he became increasingly tense and had the driver stop at Saint Luke’s Episcopal Hospital. At the emergency entrance he convinced the hospital employees that he was having a heart attack. Rose called Edwina to say that he had had a stroke, which was not the case. The doctor who examined him said he was underweight and suffering from complete exhaustion.

They did not realize they would be expected to master a craft and a whole range of newspaper functions. Tom’s first assignment was that of reporting the cost of local produce and listing the prices of light and heavy hens, sour cream, eggs, and geese, which left him little time for creative writing. The next beat was even worse because he was told to write an obituary. “Well, I went to the house where the death had occurred,” he said later. “There was all this squalling going on, and it was not a pleasant place to be.

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