International writer Thomas Kennedy spent a week in residence in the Writer’s Room at the Betsy Hotel this summer. The Writer’s Room was awarded a $60,000 Knight Arts Challenge grant to help brand South Florida as a muse for authors. Kennedy wrote about his experience for a recent presentation at Books and Books. Click here to read the complete text of Miami Days, and read below for an excerpt.
I am not familiar with the poetry of Hyam Plutzik before I begin my week in residence in The Writer’s Room at The Betsy, a luxurious hotel on Ocean Drive in South Miami Beach.
After I check in and locate my room on the ground floor, the door amid a gallery of Bob Bonis photographs of the Beatles and Rolling Stones on their 1960s tours, I find on the desk, along with a letter of welcome on gold-bordered vellum, a copy of Hyam Plutzik’s Apples from Shinar, reprinted by Wesleyan University Press from the 1959 edition on the centennial of the poet’s birthday. A gift. With an afterword by Yale literary scholar David Scott Kastan.
Hyam Plutzik, I learn, was a name included among the great mid-century American poets—Theodore Roethke, Richard Eberhart, Howard Nemerov, Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Randall Jarrell, Robert Penn Warren, Delmore Schwartz, William Stafford… However, Plutzik died young, at fifty, shortly after being a finalist for the 1961 Pulitzer. The nomination was for Horatio, a book-length poem about Hamlet’s friend, attempting to absent himself from felicity for the rest of his life to tell Hamlet’s story aright.