How to be a writer. And an account executive.

by kipress

Wallace StevensBack at More Intelligent Life, another article of interest, one completely unlike my Simpsons indulgence below. There’s a new Selected Poems by Wallace Stevens out now, and the site has a little round-up of his life. Wallace Stevens wasn’t just a poet. He was one of the greatest poets of the twentieth century (one of my favourite modernists, anyway, and they were all pretty great).

He was also something else entirely: the vice-president of an insurance company.

Stevens published “Harmonium”, his first book and one of the most important collections of 20th-century verse, when he was 44. He went on to win two National Book Awards, a Bollingen and the Pulitzer, yet when he died, his office colleagues were surprised to learn that he had been anything but an insurance executive.

The greatest of Stevens reminds us that yes, if we want to be writers, we probably also need to be something else. Some writers choose the path of least resistance: become an academic, or a journalist, or a teacher of writing. Others, like Stevens, perhaps have the better idea: to keep those lives separate.