At age thirty-six, acclaimed poet Marya Zaturenska’s work reached its full potential even as she battled emotional and physical illness. Recently rediscovered diaries, published here for the first time, reflect that crucial period in the poet’s life.
Born in Kiev, Russia, Marya Zaturenska moved to New York City at the age of eight. To help support her family, she dropped out of public high school and held various jobs in a factory, a publishing house, and bookstore. By taking night courses she managed to complete high school. Meanwhile, she wrote poetry, some of which appeared in national magazines. In time, Zaturenska would publish eight books of poetry and a biography of Christina Rossetti for which she won critical acclaim. With her husband, Horace Gregory, she wrote A History of American Poetry, 1900-1940—and counted among her literary contemporaries Willa Cather, Theodore Raethke, May Sarton, Muriel Rukeyser, Robert Frost, W. H. Auden, Padraic and Mary Colum, and Malcolm Cowley.
Significantly, these papers reveal a woman whose life brimmed with creativity, love of family, and good humor in the face of despair. Her keen poet’s eye offers biting commentary on New York’s literary scene. Furthermore, she not only chronicles the onset of World War II but also observes how the war reshaped American literary tastes and attitudes.
Mary Beth Hinton is the editor of the Syracuse University Library Associates Courier, in which she has published excerpts from the depression-era diary of Marya Zaturenska.
Patrick Gregory is the son of Marya Zaturenska. He is a former book editor and now lives in Northampton, Massachusetts.
6 x 9, 288 pages, 17 black and white illustrations