This culmination of a life of poetry, art, and social justice “has the freshness of an opening argument and the majesty of a man’s last words” (Molly Peacock, author of The Analyst).
Like paperweights, his lyrics are both small and hefty. His subjects range from race relations to trees, from secrets to parenthood, from ideas of god to kissing, from sons and mothers to fate, and of course, to poetry itself. Never afraid of the big questions of why human beings are alive, and what hope and justice are for, Louis-Dreyfus could take decades to finish a poem. A perfectionist, a thinker, and always inspired by visual art, he fought with himself over how to say what he wanted to say best. Like the French-Uruguayan businessman poet Jules Supervielle, whom Louis-Dreyfus translated, he felt the tug of the financial world against the pull of the lyricism of poetry, and the division marked his life and sparked ideas for his finest poems. As the heart condition that seized him made it absolutely imperative, finishing Letters Written and Not Sent literally became a life-or-death matter. This is the book that he wished to send into the world.
“There’s rock-bottom integrity, a dignified modesty, and a quizzical, persistent quest for meaning in this collection. It’s a final bequest to the living from an intensely generous man.” —Rosanna Warren, author of So Forth: Poems
“The poems of William Louis-Dreyfus testify to an inner life of great richness, but one that freely slipped across the border of the self into the world beyond . . . a fine collection of his work, and it is good to have it at last.” —Charles Martin, author of Future Perfect