Mary Maxwell

Cultural Tourism


Intelligent yet accessible(as described by the Wellfleet Marketplaces Book News), Mary Maxwells third book of poems includes a central series of verbal portraits of Outer Cape residents past and present. As in certain special European locales,Maxwell writes of the areas remarkable roster of artists and writers (a group that includes Edna St. Vincent Millay, Edward Hopper, Robert Motherwell and Norman Mailer), those whove committed themselves to a life of the imagination seem to have remained here as its perpetual inhabitants.

In his Best of the Yearcolumn for The New Republic, Jed Perl wrote of Cultural Tourism:

Maxwell inhabits with easy yet never glib precision that mysterious zone where art and life meet. Her words about [Hans] Hofmann resonate at the end of 2012, as they would at the end of any year in the visual arts: … Transformation / even death, requires patience, perseverance and acceptance of unknowable / outcomes. Nature is not bound by what we see.

Some of the books other poems and translations (subsequently published in periodicals such as Paris Review, Provincetown Arts and Slate) were written while Maxwell was a resident at the Camargo Foundation in Cassis, France, or as a Visiting Artist at the American Academy in Rome.  Given her view that art exists outside of mortal time,its no surprise that Maxwell addresses Catullus and Dante as though they were present, and treats certain of her actual contempories, such as performance artist John Kelly, as though they were already immortal.


To Francesco Petrarcha    13

Three Poems after Plays by Tadeusz Kantor:

     The Infanta    14

     Doppelgänger Slapstick    15

     Man Who Is Half Luggage    16

The Reading     17

Mademoiselle Dieudonné    19

The New York School of Beauty     21

Cadavre Exquis    22

The Testament of Paul Celan    23

To Ford Madox Ford, Still in Heaven    25

The Apotheosis of Delacroix    26

Beatrice, Countess of Die    27

Unrhymed Sonnet    35

Beckett in Roussillon    36

The Sources of the Sorgue    37

To Dante Alighieri    39


Edna St. Vincent Millay    43

Edward Hopper    44

Edmund Wilson    45

George Grosz     46

Mary McCarthy    47

Blanche Lazzell    48

Tennessee Williams    49

Marcel Breuer    50

Hans Hofmann    51

Irving Howe    52

Jackie Kennedy    53

Robert Motherwell    54

Norman Mailer    55

Paul Resika    56

Al Gore    57

Mimi Gross    58

John Kelly    59

Mary Maxwell    60


To Publius Vergilius Maro    63

The She-Wolf    64

The Good Marriage    65

Penelope’s Semiotics    66

Woman with a Water Jug    67

The Belgian Conception    68

Psalm 96    69

Pico in Florence    70

L’Art Cru    71

For James Joyce    72

Translation    73

To Frederick Seidel, an Old Man    75

On the Morning of His Grandmother’s Unveiling  76

Ninety Years    77

Specchio     81

A Song of Max Jacob    82

Donatello’s St. George    83

The Dying Hadrian to His Soul    84

To Valerius Gaius Catullus    85


Notes     87

Acknowledgments     91

About Cultural Tourism    93

About the Author    94