Alfred Starr Hamilton
Alfred Starr Hamilton was born and raised in Montclair, New Jersey. After a brief stint in the army during World War II, he returned to Montclair, where he lived for the rest of his life. He held a few mainly menial jobs and, after his mother’s death, lived on a small inheritance that allowed him to rent a room in a rooming house and eke out a subsistence existence. Hamilton was first published in the 1960s by Cornell University’s literary magazine, Epoch. Jargon Society, run by Jonathan Williams and David Ruff, published the only full-length collection to appear in Hamilton’s lifetime, The Poems of Alfred Starr Hamilton (1970). Though Hamilton continued to publish in magazines and journals throughout the 1970s and 1980s, his work never found more than a cult audience. He spent the final years of his life in a nursing home; after his death, his niece retrieved his last poems. These, along with the poems published during his lifetime and those held by Williams, were republished as A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind (The Song Cave, 2013). Of the thousands of poems Hamilton was known to have written during his lifetime, only this small handful remains.
Hamilton’s poems can evoke fairy tales and folktales with their odd metaphorical habits and turns of phrase; in his poems, Hamilton’s uses simple yet elusive language and deploys syntax in surprising ways. In the introduction to A Dark Dreambox of Another Kind, the editors note that “Hamilton’s is an extremely gentle language cultured in loneliness, the product of encountering a world while staying away from it.”