Edward Gorey Poems

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Edward Gorey
Edward St. John Gorey (Either February 22 or February 25, 1925–April 15, 2000) was a writer and artist noted for his macabre illustrated books. Born in Chicago, Gorey came from a colorful family; his parents, Helen Dunham Garvey and Edward Lee Gorey, divorced in 1936 when he was 11, then remarried in 1952 when he was 27. One of his step-mothers was Corinna Mura, a cabaret singer who had a brief role in the classic film Casablanca. His father was briefly a journalist. Gorey's maternal great-grandmother, Helen St. John Garvey, was a popular 19th century greeting card writer/artist, from whom he claimed to have inherited his talents. He attended a variety of local grade schools and then the Francis W. Parker School. He spent 1944–1946 in the Army at Dugway Proving Ground in Utah, and then attended Harvard University from 1946 to 1950, where he studied French and roomed with future poet Frank O'Hara. Although he would frequently state that his formal art training was "negligible", Gorey studied art for one semester at The School of The Art Institute of Chicago in 1943, eventually becoming a professional illustrator. From 1953 to 1960, he lived in New York City and worked for the Art Department of Doubleday Anchor, illustrating book covers and in some cases adding illustrations to the text. He has illustrated works as diverse as Dracula by Bram Stoker, The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells, and Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats by T. S. Eliot. In later years he illustrated many children's books by John Bellairs, as well as books in several series begun by Bellairs and continued by other authors after his death. His first independent work, The Unstrung Harp, was published in 1953. He also published under pen names that were anagrams of his first and last names, such as "Ogdred Weary". Gorey's illustrated (and sometimes wordless) books, with their vaguely ominous air and ostensibly Victorian and Edwardian settings, have long had a cult following. Gorey became particularly well-known through his animated introduction to the PBS series Mystery! in 1980, as well as his designs for the 1977 Broadway production of Dracula, for which he won a Tony Award for Best Costume Design along with a nomination for Best Scenic Design. The settings and style of Gorey's work have caused many people to assume he was British; in fact, he never visited England, and he almost never traveled. In later years, he lived year-round in Yarmouth Port, Massachusetts on Cape Cod, where he wrote and directed numerous evening-length entertainments, often featuring his own papier-mâché puppets, in an ensemble known as La Theatricule Stoique. His major theatrical work was the libretto for an "Opera Seria for Handpuppets", The White Canoe, to a score by the composer Daniel James Wolf. Based on the Lady of the Lake legend, the opera premiered posthumously. On August 13, 1987, his play "Lost Shoelaces" premiered in Woods Hole, Massachusetts. In the early 1970s, Gorey wrote an unproduced screenplay for a silent film, The Black Doll. Gorey was noted for his fondness for ballet (for many years, he religiously attended all performances of the New York City Ballet) and cats, of which he had many. Both figure prominently in his work. His knowledge of literature and films was unusually extensive, and in his interviews, he named as some of his favorite artists Jane Austen, Agatha Christie, Francis Bacon, George Balanchine, Balthus, Louis Feuillade, Ronald Firbank, Lady Murasaki Shikibu, Robert Musil, Yasujiro Ozu, Anthony Trollope, and Johannes Vermeer. Gorey was also an unashamed pop culture junkie, avidly following soap operas and TV comedies like Petticoat Junction and Cheers, and he had particular affection for dark genre series like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Batman: The Animated Series, and The X-Files; he once told an interviewer that he so enjoyed the Batman series that it was influencing the visual style of one of his upcoming books. Gorey treated TV commercials as an artform in themselves, even taping his favorites for later study. But Gorey was especially fond of movies, and for a time he did regular and very waspish reviews for the Soho Weekly under the pseudonym Wardore Edgy. Although Gorey's books were popular with children, he did not associate with children much and had no particular fondness for them. Gorey never married, professed to have little interest in romance, and never discussed any specific romantic relationships in interviews. In the book The Strange Case of Edward Gorey, published after Gorey's death, his friend Alexander Theroux reported that when Gorey was pressed on the matter of his sexual orientation, he said that even he was not sure whether he was gay or straight. When asked what his sexual preferences were in an interview, he said: "I'm neither one thing nor the other particularly. I am fortunate in that I am apparently reasonably undersexed or something... I've never said that I was gay and I've never said that I wasn't... What I'm trying to say is that I am a person before I am anything else..." It is possible that Gorey was asexual. Theroux paints a portrait of a man who lived a fairly solitary existence by choice, friendly, generous, and apparently comfortable with strangers, but strongly preferring to be alone most of the time. From 1996 to his death in April 2000, the normally reclusive artist was the subject of a direct cinema-style documentary directed by Christopher Seufert. This was not yet released as of 2006. His Cape Cod house is called Elephant House and is the subject of a photography book entitled Elephant House: Or, the Home of Edward Gorey, with photographs and text by Kevin McDermott. The house now serves as a gallery and museum of sorts. Gorey's work defies easy classification. He is typically described as an illustrator, but this merely scratches the surface. His combination of words and pictures has led some to classify him as having been a cartoonist, while others regard him primarily as a writer who drew, or an artist who wrote. His books can be found in the humor and cartoon sections of major bookstores, but books like The Object Lesson have earned serious critical respect as works of surrealist art. His endless formal experimentations - creating books that were wordless, books that were literally matchbox-sized, pop-up books, books entirely populated by inanimate objects, etc. - complicates matters still further, not to mention the thorny issue of whether his books are best classed as literature for children or for adults. As Gorey told interviewer Richard Dyer: "Ideally, if anything were any good, it would be indescribable." Gorey classified his own work as literary nonsense, the genre made most famous by Lewis Carroll and Edward Lear. Gorey seemed to love the precision involved in this genre, and, in response to the accusation of being "gothic," he stated, "if you're doing nonsense it has to be rather awful, because there'd be no point. I'm trying to think if there's sunny nonsense. Sunny, funny nonsense for children--oh, how boring, boring, boring. As Schubert said, there is no happy music. And that's true, there really isn't. And there's probably no happy nonsense, either." Much of his work fits rather well into the genre of literary nonsense, yet there is no one category that can encompass the great variety of style and subject in his many books.

the insect god
O what has become of Millicent Frastley?
Is there any hope that she's still alive?
Why hav... [read poem]
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