Paperback / softback
November 13, 2012
8 illus.
9.00 Inches (US)
6.00 Inches (US)
.85 Pounds (US)
$24.95 USD
v2.1 Reference

With Robert Lowell and His Circle

Sylvia Plath, Anne Sexton, Elizabeth Bishop, Stanley Kunitz & Others

In 1959 Kathleen Spivack won a fellowship to study at Boston University with Robert Lowell. Her fellow students were Sylvia Plath and Anne Sexton, among others. Thus began a relationship with the famous poet and his circle that would last to the end of his life in 1977 and beyond. Spivack presents a lovingly rendered story of her time among some of the most esteemed artists of a generation. Part memoir, part loose collection of anecdotes, artistic considerations, and soulful yet clear-eyed reminiscences of a lost time and place, hers is an intimate portrait of the often suffering Lowell, the great and near great artists he attracted, his teaching methods, his private world, and the significant legacy he left to his students. Through the story of a youthful artist finding her poetic voice among literary giants, Spivack thoughtfully considers how poets work. She looks at friendships, addiction, despair, perseverance and survival, and how social changes altered lives and circumstances. This is a beautifully written portrait of friends who loved and lived words, and made great beauty together. A touching and deeply revealing look into the lives and thoughts of some of the most influential artists of the twentieth century, With Robert Lowell and His Circle will appeal to writers, students, and thoughtful literary readers, as well as to scholars.

About the Author

KATHLEEN SPIVACK is an award-winning writer, the author of seven previous books of poetry and prose. She teaches in Boston and Paris.


“Spivack records Lowell’s mix of generosity and obliviousness that endeared him to writer friends and students. . . . [Her] portrait offers a window on a man, a city, and a method for anyone not lucky enough to have taken part in those times.”—Valerie Duff, The Boston Globe

“I devoured the book in one sitting; it’s extraordinarily evocative of the poet and his time. Thank you so much for writing it.”—Don Share, Senior Editor, Poetry Magazine

“A passsionate, unpretentious and carefully documented memoir in which the main character is not a poet—although the book is full of lively sketches of writers—but the practice of poetry itself. We see the intensity and sheer everyday labor, with insight into the particular impact of the period on women writers.”—StreetFeet

“Spivack’s portrait offers a window on a man, a city, and a method for anyone not lucky enough to have taken part in those times.”—Boston Globe

“Spivack writes feelingly about the plight of the female poet in those days... Grateful to count most of these people as friends, she writes about them with an almost girlish enthusiasm.”—Washington Post

"Reporting her impressions with warmth and wit, she tells of Lowell's kindness, his intense commitment to poetry, his encouragement of other writers, and of some of his well-known shortcomings (especially behaviors associated with his manic depression). . . . A tone of genuine but not reverential affection predominates throughout the book, and Spivack's demystification of popular associations of genius and madness is particularly welcome. . . .Recommended."—Choice

"Though the term circle might describe any group of people connected by a shared interest, it seems especially apt in its suggestion of gravity, or centripetal force, when referring to Lowell's influence. Only an artist capable of sharing considerable gifts of expert advice and friendship could have drawn so many talented young writers, future influences themselves, to the "deep gloom" of Boston for so many years. Kathleen Spivack's retracing of her own orbital path offers an engaging, heartfelt evocation of an uncommonly rich period in the history of American poetry."—American Book Review


"This book is absorbing and alive, human and compelling . . . the best memoir yet about Robert Lowell."—Steven Gould Axelrod, University of California, Riverside

"A portrait [of Lowell] that serves to define his role as poet and teacher in fresh and significant ways . . . This is a memoir that will make an impact right away and that will be referred to by scholars, readers and biographers for many years to come."—Thomas Travisano, Hartwick College

9781555537883 : with-robert-lowell-and-his-circle-spivack
Paperback / softback
256 Pages
$24.95 USD

Other Titles in BIOGRAPHY & AUTOBIOGRAPHY / Literary Figures

Next Time There's a Pandemic

Vivek Shraya, afterword by J.R. Carpenter
Feb 2022 - The University of Alberta Press, an imprint of University of Alberta Press
$12.99 USD - Paperback / softback

Christopher Dawson

Joseph T. Stuart
Jan 2022 - The Catholic University of America Press
$29.95 USD - Paperback / softback

Before the Pen Runs Dry

Janine Molinaro
Dec 2021 - The Catholic University of America Press
$25.00 USD - Hardback