Jun 9, 2011

Paul Violi

I was trying to organize my shit tonight when I came across these two postcards from Paul Violi, who died recently, of course, and who I've never heard anybody ever say anything bad about. I didn't know him, really. He contributed to my Poet's Bookshelf book, and I sent him a copy of Hitler's Mustache, just because I liked him and his poetry so much. So, we had a little correspondence. He was very kind. He sent the first postcard in response to receiving Poet's Bookshelf. It said: "Just to say how much I'm enjoying the Bookshelf--So many amusing, interesting, surprising overlaps in the lists--all very revealing. Thanks for including me--Paul"
The painting on the postcard is from "A Rake's Progress" which is about Tom Rakewell, as painted by William Hogarth (1697-1764). This Hogarth painting depicts the scene as Rakewell "loses his second fortune at the gambling tables at White's Club and rages at his ill luck. All is confusion for the house is on fire and the Watch have just broken in." The second postcard depicts "The Arrest": "Having wasted his inheritance, Tom is arrested for debt on his way to St. James Palace to celebrate the Queen's birthday. Sarah offers her purse, hoping to procure his release." He sent this postcard in response to Hitler's Mustache. On the back he wrote, "Thanks for the Encyclopedia --or you've done for Hitler's Mustache what Christopher Smart did for his cat Geoffrey--All my best, Paul".