James Schuyler

James Schuyler (1923-1991). Courtesy NNDB.

James Marcus Schuyler (9 November 1923 - 12 April 1991) was a major American poet of the late 20th century .[1] He was a central figure in the New York School and is often associated with fellow New York School poets John Ashbery, Frank O'Hara, Kenneth Koch, and Barbara Guest.

Life Edit

James Marcus Schuyler was the son of Marcus Schuyler (a reporter) and Margaret Daisy Connor Schuyler.

A native of Chicago, he attended Bethany College of West Virginia from 1941 to 1943. In recollection of his times at Bethany College, Schuyler said in an interview published in the spring of 1992, that he did not excel, "I just played bridge all the time."[2]

Schuyler moved to New York City in the late 1940s where he worked for NBC and first befriended W.H. Auden. In 1947, he moved to Ischia, Italy, where he lived in Auden's rented apartment and worked as his secretary. Between 1947 and 1948, Schuyler attended the University of Florence.[2]

After returning to the United States and settling in New York City, he roomed with John Ashbery and Frank O'Hara. He also coauthored a novel, A Nest of Ninnies, with Ashbery in 1969.

From 1961 to 1973 Schuyler lived with Fairfield Porter and his family in Southampton, Long Island. Porter became an influence for Schuyler as well, and he dedicated his first major collection, Freely Espousing to Anne and Fairfield Porter.[2]

Schuyler was not known for revealing much about his personal life. It is known that he was gay, was manic depressive,[3] suffered several years of psychoanalysis, and withstood many traumatic experiences. One of these includes a "near death experience" in a fire which he caused by smoking in bed.[4]

In a spring 1990 special issue of the Denver Quarterly that was written by Barbara Guest in devotion to Schuyler's work, Guest refers to Schuyler as an "intimist," saying:

...for me Jimmy is the Vuillard of us, he withholds his secret, the secret thing until the moment appears to reveal it. We wait and wait for the name of a flower while we praise the careful cultivation. We wait for someone to speak, And it is Jimmy in an aside.

In April 1991, at age 67, Schuyler died in Manhattan following a stroke. His ashes were interred at the Little Portion Friary (Episcopal), Mt. Sinai, Long Island, New York.

Writing Edit

Schuyler's move to Italy, as Auden's typist, was accompanied by his intention of writing. In 1981 he was said to have recalled "that he found Auden's elaborate formalism 'inhibiting.'" This was likely an influence to his own "conversational style and proselike line."[2]

While living in New York City, Schuyler found inspiration in the art world. From 1955-1961, he was a "curator of circulating exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art." He was also an editorial associate and critic for Art News. While working as an editorial associate, Schuyler wrote criticism about a large amount of art. In an interview that was published in spring 2002, he said, "I did learn an awful lot during those years, and then went on in the 60s writing occasional articles about specific artists and their specific strategies. Partly it was to make money, and partly because I wanted to write about painting, about art." His time as an art critic, then, became a major inspiration to his work.[2]

Schuyler is also noted for his distinct ability to take things that are "normal," and bring out their greatness. He takes a look at things that many people may not see, or care to take note of, such as individual raindrops. He evaluates the ordinary and the way they work in relation to other things: "It's the water in the drinking glass the tulips are in./ It's a day like any other."[4]

Schuyler was also responsible for writing Frank O'Hara's elegy, "Buried at Springs". Schuyler recalls Ralph Waldo Emerson's transcendentalism, and uses nature to express himself in the elegy. Schuyler also has several works that are about, or that reference lists.[4]

In his Diary, Schuyler says that he is "more of a reader than a writer," and "everything happens as I write."[4]

Recognition Edit

Schuyler received the 1981 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry for his 1980 collection The Morning of the Poem. Schuyler also received the Longview Foundation Award in 1961, and the Frank O'Hara Prize for Poetry in 1969 for Freely Espousing.[2]

Schuyler was a Guggenheim Fellow and a fellow of the American Academy of Poets.

His poem The Morning of the Poem is considered to be among the best long poems of the postmodern era.

Publications Edit

Numerous works by Schuyler, including books, plays, recordings, and other pieces have been published throughout the years. The following is a list of items that he authored.[2]

Poetry Edit

  • Salute. New York: Tiber Press, 1960.
  • May 24th or So. New York: Tibor de Nagy Editions, 1966.[2]
  • Freely Espousing: Poems. Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday, 1969; New York: SUN, 1979.
  • The Crystal Lithium. New York: Random House, 1972.
  • A Sun Cab. New York: Adventures in Poetry, 1972.
  • Penguin Modern Poets 24 (by Kenward Elmslie, Kenneth Koch, & James Schuyler; edited by John Ashbery). Baltimore, MD: Penguin, 1973; Harmondsworth, UK: Penguin, 1974.
  • Hymn to Life: Poems. New York: Random House, 1974.
  • The Fireproof Floors of Witley Court; English Songs and Dances (illustrated by Claire van Vliet). Newark, VT: Janus Press, 1976.
  • Song. Syracuse, NY: Kermani Press, 1976.
  • The Morning of the Poem: Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1980.
  • Collabs (by Philip Schuyler & Helena Hughes). New York: Misty Terrace Press, 1980.
  • Early in '71. Berkeley, CA: The Figures, 1982.
  • A Few Days: Poems. New York: Random House, 1985.
  • For Joe Brainard. New York: Dia Art Foundation, 1988.
  • Selected Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1988; Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 1990.
  • James Schuyler: Poems / Andrew Lord: Sculptures. Zurich: Edition Bruno Bischofberger, 1992.
  • Collected Poems. New York: Farrar, Straus, 1993.
  • The New York Poets: Frank O'Hara, John Ashbery, Kenneth Koch, James Schuyler: An anthology. Manchester, UK: Carcanet, 2004.
  • Other Flowers: Uncollected poems (edited by James Metzee & Simon Pettet. New York, Farrar, Straus, 2010.



  • Selected Art Writings (edited by Simon Pettet). Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow Press, 1998.

Collected editionsEdit

  • The Home Book: Prose and poems, 1951-1970 (edited by Trevor Winkfield). Calais, VT: Z Press, 1977.


  • Broadway: A poets and painters anthology (edited with Charles North). New York: Swollen Magpie Press, 1979.
  • Broadway 2: A poets and painters anthology (edited with Charles North). Brooklyn, NY: Hanging Loose Press, 1989.

Letters and journalsEdit

  • Two Journals: James Schuyler, Darragh Park (by Schuyler and Darragh Park). (New York: Tibor de Nagy, 1995.
  • Diary of James Schuyler (edited by Nathan Kurnin). Santa Rosa, CA: Black Sparrow, 1996.
  • Just the Thing: Selected letters of James Schuyler, 1951-1991 (edited by William Corbett). New York: Turtle Point Press, 2004.
  • The Letters of James Schuyler to Frank O'Hara (edited by William Corbett). New York: Turtle Point Press, 2006.

Except where noted, bibliographical information courtesy WorldCat.[5]

Audio / videoEdit

75 at 75 James Schuyler Reads "Salute" and other poems

75 at 75 James Schuyler Reads "Salute" and other poems

  • Hymn to Life, and other poems (cassette). Washington, DC: Watershed Intermedia, 1989.[5]

Play Productions Edit

  • Presenting Jane, Cambridge, Mass., Poet's Theatre, 1952.
  • Shopping and Waiting: A Dramatic Pause, New York, American Theatre for Poets, 1953.
  • Unpacking the Black Trunk, by Schuyler and Kenward Elmslie, New York, American Theatre for Poets, 1964.
  • The Wednesday Club, by Schuyler and Elmslie, New York, American Theatre for Poets, 1964.

See alsoEdit



The major collection of Schuyler's papers, covering the years from 1947 to 1991, is held in the Mandeville Department of Special Collections at the University of California, San Diego.


  1. James Schuyler,, Academy of American Poets. Web, Feb. 6, 2015.
  2. 2.0 2.1 2.2 2.3 2.4 2.5 2.6 2.7 Dictionary of Literary Biography 169: American Poets Since World War II: James Schuyler. Retrieved on 2007-09-03.
  3. Bergman, David (2002), "American Literature: Gay Male, Post-Stonewall",,,5.html, retrieved 2007-09-03 .
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Watkin, William. "Let's Make a List": James Schuyler's Taxonomic Autobiography. Journal of American Studies, 36 (2002), I, 43-68. 2002 Cambridge University Press
  5. 5.0 5.1 Search results = au:James Schuyler, WorldCat, OCLC Online Computer Library Center Inc. Web, Feb. 6, 2015.

External linksEdit

Audio / video
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