John Malcolm Brinnin
Life and work
When still a boy, Brinnin's parents moved to Detroit, Michigan. Brinnin went to the University of Michigan for his undergraduate studies where he won three Hopwood Awards in 1938, 1939 and 1940. He worked his way through school in an Ann Arbor book store. During part of this time (1936–1938), Brinnin served as the editor of the journal Signatures. Graduating from Michigan in 1942, Brinnin went to Harvard University for graduate work.
From 1949 to 1956 Brinnin was Director of the Young Men's and Young Women's Hebrew Association Poetry Center, popularly known today as the 92nd Street Y. While there he raised the center to national attention as a focal point for poetry in the United States. He was, for example, was the first person to bring Dylan Thomas to the United States and his 1955 book Dylan Thomas in America (1955) describes much of his attempt to befriend and help the troubled Welsh poet. Brinnin has more recently, however, attracted criticism for his apparent abandonment of Thomas in the days leading up to the poet's death. He had fallen in love with Thomas, who had dabbled in gay sex in his younger days and who did little to discourage him. When a large party saw Thomas off on his ship at the end of his first American tour in 1950, Brinnin kissed him full on the lips and held the embrace in front of the assembled friends. Later, however, he made a conscious decision to break off his friendship with Thomas, knowing it would do him no good.
In addition to his work on Thomas, Brinnin published six volumes of his own poetry. Brinnin also wrote scholarly works on T. S. Eliot, Gertrude Stein, Truman Capote, and William Carlos Williams; and published three personal travelogues.
- The Garden is Political (1942)
- The Lincoln Lyrics (1942)
- No Arch, No Triumph (1945)
- The Sorrows of Cold Stone (1951)
- Selected Poems of John Malcolm Brinnin (1963)
- Skin Diving in the Virgins, and Other Poems (1970)
Works on literary figures
- Dylan Thomas in America (1956)
- William Carlos Williams (1963)
- Sextet: T. S. Eliot, Truman Capote and Others (1981)
- The Third Rose: Gertrude Stein and Her World (1987)
- Beau Voyage: Life Aboard the Last Great Ships (1988)
- Travel and the Sense of Wonder (1992) link to digital edition
- The Sway of the Grand Saloon: A Social History of the North Atlantic (1971)
- The John Malcolm Brinnin Papers at the University of Delaware
- Digital edition of Brinnin's Travel And The Sense Of Wonder (1992)