Byways is an acute portrait of a gone era: the Pittsburgh of steel magnates, the London and Paris of discreet assignations, the Harvard where tailors routinely come to the dormitory to take the measurements of undergraduates for their tweeds. Who would have thought such an environment could breed the most avant-garde of our publishers? For Laughlin, publishing was not a trade but, like his own poetry, a labor of love.
—Marjorie Perloff

The memoirs of ND’s founder.

Byways

Poetry by James Laughlin

Edited by Peter Glassgold

James Laughlin, the late founder and publisher of New Directions, was also a poet of elegance and distinction. Upon his death in 1997 at the age of eighty-three, he left unfinished his long autobiographical poem, Byways. Yet the man who published, promoted, and kept in print the work of some of the greatest writers of the twentieth century remained resistant for most of his life to the memoiristic impulse. In the end, he found his autobiographical voice not in conventional narrative but in verse. The scope of Byways is ambitious, weaving together family history (the Laughlins were wealthy Pittsburgh steel magnates), the poet’s early memories and travels in Europe and America with his playboy father, his student years at Harvard and his first meetings with Ezra Pound, the first decades of his publishing venture and his reminiscences of his close friendships with W.C. Williams, Thomas Merton, and Kenneth Rexroth, and not least, his many early loves. Though unfinished, Byways stands as testimony to the author’s long, influential, and productive life.

Editions: PaperbackClothbound

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Paperback (published February 1, 2005)

ISBN
9780811215985
Price US
19.95
Price CN
29
Trim Size
6x9
Page Count
336

Clothbound (published February 1, 2005)

ISBN
9780811216173
Price US
35
Trim Size
6x9
Page Count
336

James Laughlin

James Laughlin was the founder of New Directions and author of several collections of poetry

Byways is an acute portrait of a gone era: the Pittsburgh of steel magnates, the London and Paris of discreet assignations, the Harvard where tailors routinely come to the dormitory to take the measurements of undergraduates for their tweeds. Who would have thought such an environment could breed the most avant-garde of our publishers? For Laughlin, publishing was not a trade but, like his own poetry, a labor of love.
—Marjorie Perloff