Field was born in Brooklyn, New York, and grew up in Lynbrook, Long Island, New York, where he played cello in the Field Family Trio, which had a weekly radio program on WGBBFreeport. He served in World War II in the 8th Air Force as a navigator in heavy bombers, and flew 25 missions over Germany.
He began writing poetry during World War II, after a Red Cross worker handed him an anthology of poetry. In 1963 his book Stand Up, Friend, With Me was awarded the prestigious Lamont Poetry Prize and was published. In 1992, he received a Lambda Award for Counting Myself Lucky, Selected Poems 1963-1992.
Other honors include the Shelley Memorial Award, a Rome Prize, and an Academy Award for the documentary film To Be Alive, for which he wrote the narration. He received the Bill Whitehead Award for Lifetime Achievement from Publishing Triangle in 2005.
In 1979, he edited the anthology A Geography of Poets, and in 1992, with Gerald Locklin and Charles Stetler, brought out a sequel, A New Geography of Poets.
He and his partner Neil Derrick, long-time residents of Greenwich Village, have written a best-selling historical novel about the Village, The Villagers. In 2005 the University of Wisconsin Press published his literary memoirs The Man Who Would Marry Susan Sontag and Other Intimate Literary Portraits of the Bohemian Era, the title of which refers to the writer Alfred Chester. His most recent book After the Fall: Poems Old and New was published by the University of Pittsburgh Press in 2007.
British editor Diana Athill’s Instead of a Book: Letters to a Friend (Granta Books, 2011) is a collection of letters from her to Field chronicling their intimate correspondence spanning more than 30 years. (From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia.)
I think it was the last line of this poem that sold me on it. Because THAT line is me!
She comes on drenched in a perfume called Self-Satisfaction
from feather boa to silver pumps.
She does not need to be loved by you,
though she’ll give you credit for good taste.
Just because you say you love her
she’s not throwing herself at your feet in gratitude.
Every other star reveals how worthless she feels
by crying when the hero says, Marry me,
or how unhoped- for the approval is
when the audience applauds her big number,
but Mae West takes it as her due:
she knows she’s good.
She expects the best for her self
and knows she’s worth what she costs,
and she costs plenty –
she’s not giving anything away.
She enjoys her admirers, fat daddy or muscleman,
and doesn’t confuse vanity and sex,
though she never turns down pleasure,
lapping it up.
Above all she enjoys her self,
swinging her body that says, Me, me, me, me.
Why not have a good time?
As long as you amuse me, go on,
I like you slobbering over my hand, big boy,
I have a right to.
Most convincing, we know all this
not by her preaching
but by her presence – it’s no act.
Every word and look and movement
she likes being herself.
And we who don’t
can only look on, astonished.
Picture Credit: www.goodreads.com