In response to:
The Cold Eye of Marianne Moore from the May 10, 2018 issue
To the Editors:
I was distressed to read Nick Laird’s review [“The Cold Eye of Marianne Moore,” NYR, May 10] in which he writes that Heather Cass White’s New Collected Poems of Marianne Moore “is the first edition of Moore’s work that actually is what it says it is” in gathering together and restoring the poems she omitted from her own 1967 edition, inaccurately called Complete Poems.
And it is no wonder that he did so. In her Editor’s Note, White states falsely that “the situation since 1981 has been this: Moore’s readers have had available to them approximately half of what she actually published.” Further, the jacket copy states, “Until now, there has been no good vantage point from which to see the body of her remarkable work as a whole.” And the inside flap carries David Bromwich’s assertion, prompted by White’s introduction, “there are versions of poems here that few of us have seen before.”
These statements are obviously untrue. My edition, The Poems of Marianne Moore (Viking, 2003), is the first real collected edition. It contains some 256 poems while White’s so-called “definitive edition” has only 188. It restores major poems and early poems that Moore excluded, which amount to nearly half her work. Although White lists my edition under “Works Cited,” she does not address it directly in her introduction and ignores the fact that it came first.
While I have no doubt that Marianne Moore’s poems deserve repeated attention and care, I object to the disregard of my earlier complete edition. I can only regard White’s edition, as well as Laird’s review, as implicit repudiations of my work.
New York City
Nick Laird replies:
I thank Grace Schulman for her letter. I had no intention of repudiating her earlier edition and am grateful for the clarification.