Douglas Crase photo 1984 by Frank Polach


Audio of Crase's 1988 reading for the Apple Corps Theatre in Chelsea can be found at a link halfway down the album page of this Web site.

Biography

Douglas Crase is known for a single book of poems, The Revisionist.

Born in 1944, Crase grew up on a farm in Michigan, went to Princeton, and planned a career in law. In response to the political turmoil of 1968 he abandoned law school to write the report of the Political Reform Commission of the Michigan Democratic Party. He subsequently served as speechwriter to the Democratic candidate for governor of the state.

Crase arrived in New York in 1974 and moved with his partner, now husband, Frank Polach, to the Chelsea neighborhood where they continue to live. As noted in The Oxford Book of American Poetry, he is the Doug in James Schuyler's poem "Dining Out with Doug and Frank." For many years he earned a living as a free-lance speechwriter for Eastman Kodak, General Electric, and other corporations. The poems he wrote at the time were informed, according to the Encyclopedia of the New York School Poets, by an "interest in rhetoric" not traditionally associated with poets of that school.

When The Revisionist appeared in 1981 its unusual rhetorical address was widely recognized. "I think I speak for many," reflected David Kalstone as he introduced Crase to an audience at the Guggenheim Museum, "in saying it appeared with that sense of completeness of utterance and identity that must have come with the first books of Wallace Stevens - Harmonium - and Elizabeth Bishop - North and South."

Crase followed The Revisionist with essays on favorite writers, including Emerson, Ashbery, and Niedecker. His memoir of Schuyler was described by Richard Howard in The New York Times as "the best single essay on Schuyler I know." His commonplace book, Amerifil.txt, was published in 1996 and became an example of possibilities in the form. Likewise unusual was Both, his dual biography of artist Dwight Ripley and botanist Rupert Barneby, lifelong partners whose rediscovered story sheds new light on the mid-century art scene in New York.

On his departure from law school Crase was called to the dean's office for an explanation. When he remarked that his classes were boring the dean countered, "My son, ninety per cent of life is boring." Since that interview, he has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers' Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship for his work. Committed to the city - he was for three years a Fellow of the New York Institute for the Humanities he also makes time for a mountain stream in Northeast Pennsylvania.

Books

"The unusual case of a contemporary poet whose most public, expansive voice is his most authentic."
Times Literary Supplement
"reads more like poetry than a commonplace book."
Tin House
"a superb biography."
The New York Times
a selection

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