Mark Milroy, Portrait of Douglas Crase, 2013. oil on canvas, 33 x 27 inches.
Douglas Crase has been best known for his poems in The Revisionist. Long out of print, they are available again in his collected poems, The Revisionist and The Astropastorals.
Today he is recognized likewise for his essays on poets, artists, and other cultural figures, some of them his intimate friends. His essays have been newly collected in a single volume, On Autumn Lake.
Born in 1944, Crase arrived thirty years later in New York and moved with his partner, now husband, Frank Polach, to the Chelsea neighborhood where they continue to live. They are the Doug and Frank of James Schuyler’s poem “Dining Out with Doug and Frank.”
When The Revisionist appeared in 1981 its unusual rhetoric was widely noted. “I think I speak for many,” reflected critic David Kalstone, “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.”
A law school dropout, Crase was once called to the dean’s office to explain himself. When he remarked that his classes were boring, the dean countered, “My son, ninety per cent of life is boring.” Since then, Crase has received a Guggenheim Fellowship, a Whiting Writers’ Award, and a MacArthur Fellowship for his poems and essays. Committed to the city, he also makes time for a mountain stream in northeast Pennsylvania.