Poetry News

Morgan Library & Museum's Moving Tennessee Williams: No Refuge But Writing

By Harriet Staff
Tennessee Williams

In an exhibition curated by Carolyn Vega at the Morgan Library & Museum, "No Refuge but Writing," the wanderlust of Tennessee Williams is on display alongside "rough drafts, scripts, programs, notebooks, correspondence and sketches for sets." "His typewriters were portable of necessity. The life portrayed in 'No Refuge' is exhaustingly and hopelessly itinerant," writes Ben Brantley for the New York Times. Futhermore: 

“I am already making plans for a faraway flight (perhaps as far as Ceylon), the night the play opens in New York,” Williams wrote during the first days of rehearsal for “Cat.” Hotel keys that he collected have been assembled into a still life that bespeaks a life that was never still.

The frontispiece of a cherished volume of Hart Crane poems, an idol of Williams’s youth, is filled with the changing addresses of its owner, from his native St. Louis to the Men’s Residence Club in Murray Hill in New York to temporary sanctuaries in Key West, Fla.; Paris; Los Angeles; Rome; Taos, N.M.; and New Orleans.

On the ink-blotted facing page, Williams has written not one but two versions (the first dated 1939, California) of a rumination on the thick skins of most people and his own too permeable flesh: “Alas for the poor dreamer, who has emerged unarmored from the womb of nature and who has been cast into the world without the indispensable insulation.”

Find out more about the energetic show, which runs through May 13, at the NYT.