Saturday, 13 October 2012
The Conscientious Objector...
On this day...American poet Robert Lowell is condemned to prison for evading the draft in 1943. Considered one of the founders of the confessional movement, Lowell would go on to win the Pulitzer Prize, National Book Award and serve as the Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress - yet as a 26 year-old his words only seemed to get him into trouble.
Writing of his decision not to join WWII, Lowell said in his letter addressed to then President Roosevelt: 'Dear Mr President: I very much regret that I must refuse the opportunity you offer me in your communication of August 6, 1943 for service in the Armed Force'. Such a response earned Lowell a year long sentence served first in New York and then Connecticut - an experience recalled in his poem 'Memories of West Street and Lepke' from his collection 'Life Studies'.
Seemingly an ideologically headstrong cohort, Lowell was not the first, and will surely not be the last writer to suffer for their personal convictions.