Lisa Tyler is a Professor of English at Sinclair College in Dayton, Ohio. She has published four books, including Wharton, Hemingway, and the Advent of Modernism and Teaching Hemingway’s “A Farewell to Arms.” She currently serves on the board of the Hemingway Society.
In 1927, a disapproving Edith Wharton presciently pronounced Harry Crosby “a sort of half-crazy cad.” Ernest Hemingway, who spent the summer of 1927 in Pamplona with Crosby, once told Archibald MacLeish, “Harry has a great, great gift. He has a wonderful gift of carelessness” (Wolff, Black Sun, 171). Crosby is a liminal figure hovering in the background of modernist literature—a now largely forgotten poet whose work inspired MacLeish and an aesthetically sophisticated publisher whose Black Sun Press published Hart Crane’s epic poem The Bridge, Short Stories by Kay Boyle, and the first excerpts of James Joyce’s Work-in-Progress to appear in book form. Ben Mazer’s Selected Poems by Harry Crosby brings Crosby’s poetry out of the background of literary modernism and into the foreground for our examination.