The blog of the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation

Sep 12, 2013

An insider view of author Thomas Kennedy's stay at the Betsy Writers Room

Posted by Valerie Nahmad

International writer Thomas Kennedy spent a week in residence in the Writer's Room at the Betsy Hotel this summer. The Writer’s Room was awarded a $60,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant to help brand South Florida as a muse for authors. Kennedy wrote about his experience for a recent presentation at Books and Books. Click here to read the complete text of Miami Days, and read below for an excerpt.

I am not familiar with the poetry of Hyam Plutzik before I begin my week in residence in The Writer’s Room at The Betsy, a luxurious hotel on Ocean Drive in South Miami Beach.

After I check in and locate my room on the ground floor, the door amid a gallery of Bob Bonis photographs of the Beatles and Rolling Stones on their 1960s tours, I find on the desk, along with a letter of welcome on gold-bordered vellum, a copy of Hyam Plutzik’s Apples from Shinar, reprinted by Wesleyan University Press from the 1959 edition on the centennial of the poet’s birthday. A gift. With an afterword by Yale literary scholar David Scott Kastan.

Hyam Plutzik, I learn, was a name included among the great mid-century American poets—Theodore Roethke, Richard Eberhart, Howard Nemerov, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, Robert Penn Warren, Delmore Schwartz, William Stafford… However, Plutzik died young, at fifty, shortly after being a finalist for the 1961 Pulitzer. The nomination was for Horatio, a book-length poem about Hamlet’s friend, attempting to absent himself from felicity for the rest of his life to tell Hamlet’s story aright.

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