Thy spotless Muse, like Mary, did contain The boundless Godhead
October 16, 2007 4:29 PM   Subscribe

"No notice was taken by the press of artist-writer Sheri Martinelli's death in November 1996, unfairly ignoring the significant role she played in the cultural history of our time." Just to drop a few names. Nin. Pound. Parker. Gaddis. Cummings. Bukowski. Brando. A staggering roll-call for a life almost forgotten.
posted by rudster (14 comments total) 8 users marked this as a favorite
This looks good. I'm looking forward to reading it. Thanks for posting.
posted by Sailormom at 5:02 PM on October 16, 2007

Related and Recommended: "...she appeared under a pseudonym in Anatole Broyard’s posthumous memoir Kafka Was the Rage..." Great book!
posted by blaneyphoto at 5:27 PM on October 16, 2007

Fascinating. Thank you, also, for the pointer to Cowley's poem.
posted by jquinby at 5:30 PM on October 16, 2007

Utterly fascinating, rudster, thank you! I just sent that to several friends of Ginsberg's.
posted by digaman at 5:38 PM on October 16, 2007

Thanks for the post. As an old Poundian I was aware of her as one of the Master's acolytes in his St. Liz days, and it was interesting to learn about her life (though I confess I skimmed most of it—that's more, surely, than anyone but her mother would need to know about La Martinelli). I knew women like her when I moved in artsy circles, and I suppose they've existed since the beginning of time: fucked up, needy, full of inchoate artistic/sexual cravings, ready to attach themselves to powerful writers and artists and provide inspiration. (A comparable figure in Russian literature a century ago was Nina Petrovskaya, who was involved with various great writers and called herself "Renata" after the name given her in a Bryusov novel.) Naturally, they think of themselves as far more gifted and important (in a cultural sense—we are all, of course, important in our own special way) than they are; the interesting thing is that they often find younger men to worship them in turn, as this guy clearly does. It's amusing that he takes her self-evaluations and descriptions over those of memoirists:
Broyard’s physical descriptions of her are accurate and he captures her unique way of talking and her oblique intelligence, but Sheri told me many of his details are wrong: her apartment was clean and comfortable, not dirty and crowded as he says, and she most often wore cloth pants, not the clinging dresses and no underwear that Broyard obsesses over. ... Taken with a huge grain of salt, however, Broyard’s book provides yet another testimony to Sheri’s appeal. For Broyard, she was literally unforgettable...

In the context of the novel, the letter is a suicide note Esme leaves for Wyatt; Broyard too describes a suicide attempt by Sheri (65-66), but she told me she never attempted suicide.
She was unforgettable, but you dismiss his memories of her because she tells you her apartment wasn't "dirty and crowded" and of course she wore underwear! I mean, why would she say such things if they weren't true?

Gotta like EP: "She showed the novel to Pound, but he wasn’t interested in such 'verbiage.' 'I’ll help your friends any way I can,” he told her, “but I won’t read their books.'"

This is frustrating: "When Charlie Parker died the following year, Pound again attempted to assuage her grief with a poem, which remains unpublished." Publish the damn poem, already!
posted by languagehat at 5:48 PM on October 16, 2007 [1 favorite]

Infuckingdeed! That drove me wild. Pound on Bird!
posted by digaman at 6:09 PM on October 16, 2007

> As an old Poundian

p.s. languagehat -- I love you.
posted by digaman at 6:14 PM on October 16, 2007

the use of commas in that second link makes me wince - i couldn't read past the first lines.
posted by raevyne at 6:50 PM on October 16, 2007

I knew women like her when I moved in artsy circles, and I suppose they've existed since the beginning of time: fucked up, needy, full of inchoate artistic/sexual cravings, ready to attach themselves to powerful writers and artists and provide inspiration.

My impression, upon reading the piece, is that she is quite typical of the type of woman who flits around literary and artistic circles.

Steven Moore's main fascination with her is that authors he idolizes loved her. That is an odd basis for such lavish praise.
posted by jayder at 6:55 PM on October 16, 2007

The evolution of hangers on: you start out as an amateur in high school. Move up through the minors of single A undergrad, double AA Master's program, and the triple AAA PhD program. Hopefully you'll hit it big and get drafted into the Majors. And occasionally, there's that one special person who can jump straight from the amateur to the Majors.
posted by snwod at 7:33 PM on October 16, 2007

Anybody else reminded of The Aspern Papers?
posted by jayder at 8:01 PM on October 16, 2007

When I lived in Santa Barbara, some friends and I would go to either the park or the coffeeshop we all but lived at and give spontaneous Pound readings.

We called it, ever so wittily, "pounding pounds and pounds of Pound."
posted by Samizdata at 8:06 PM on October 16, 2007

I suppose they've existed since the beginning of time

There's a subject for a grad student! No, seriously, imagine trying to take the idea back through the centuries and see where you can find the earliest reference to such as her.
posted by IndigoJones at 5:13 PM on October 17, 2007

It stinks in here of a pigeon's hole.
But I'll heroically resist my heroic inclination to restore Martinelli's reputation.
(I sense that work might be involved, and besides, I don't wish to appear ardent.)
And anyway, since here and only here, in this tiny place, has her reputation been smirched, a full-priced resurrection doesn't seem called for.
But I'll tithe a few countervailing descriptors at least.
Throbbingly sexy.
There now. Balance. And a respectful nod to the Old Man's (and all old mens') taste in muses.
Who, BTW, are a lot more essential than comments previous to mine give them credit for.
Far more useful, for instance, than winter wind.
Indispensable, really.
Believe it.
Trust me.

In any case, if to enjoy nothing other than some gaudy name dropping and period scenery, I plan to read 'Beerspit Night and Cursing', and if Martinelli surprises me by landing on either side of my expectation, so much the better.

Oh, and here's an alternate cover for 'Beerspit', with what I am reasonably sure is a more gratifying peek at Sheri prime, accompanied by, and partially obscured by, a typically terrifying peek at Bukowski.
posted by Opus Dark at 2:44 AM on October 18, 2007 [1 favorite]

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