An American Poet in Paris: Pauline Avery Crawford and the Herald Tribune

An American Poet in Paris: Pauline Avery Crawford and the Herald Tribune

An American Poet in Paris: Pauline Avery Crawford and the Herald Tribune

An American Poet in Paris: Pauline Avery Crawford and the Herald Tribune

Synopsis

An American Poet in Paris is a literary biography of Pauline Avery Crawford, a remarkable American expatriate who wrote for the Paris edition of the New York Herald Tribune in the 1930s and 1940s. Interspersed in the biography are numerous quotations from Crawford's poetry and letters, along with an account of her fascinating life in Paris, a life that included the turbulent years before, during, and after World War II.

Crawford was reared in the frontier town of Fort Collins, Colorado, went east to attend college, and then became a faculty wife. Her early happiness was marred by tragedy when her husband committed suicide, leaving her with two small boys, and her sister, whom she had joined in Paris, died of tuberculosis. Crawford contracted acute articular rheumatism and had to spend two long, painful years in the American Hospital in Neuilly. Despite the loss of a leg, this widow with two young children carved out a new life for herself in the pages of the Paris Herald Tribune. Therein she recorded the events of those dramatic pre- and postwar years in both poetry and prose.

As a constant contributor to the "Mailbag," the column of letters to the editor, Crawford became a celebrity in the Anglo-American community even though she advocated American intervention in the war in a newspaper whose readership was largely isolationist. In the postwar years, the editor asked her to create a column that he dubbed "Our Times in Rhyme." In this column, which she wrote until shortly before her death in 1952, she provided an amusing, sometimes sarcastic, and often cheering commentary on world events and life in Paris, leavened with some of the more serious sonnets she had always loved to write.

Well informed and well written, An American Poet in Paris throws light on a particular time and place as seen through the eyes of one extraordinary woman, in an unusual and pioneering American newspaper. Crawford's poetry and wit still sparkle, the controversies in which she indulged remain of interest, and her detailed description of life in occupied Paris is especially compelling.

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