Cover to Cover with Jack Foley

Cover to Cover with Jack Foley – January 20, 2010

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Jack discusses the bizarre, virtually unknown American poet, Thomas Holley Chivers (1809-1858). Chivers and Edgar Allan Poe were literary friends, born in the same year, and they discussed many aspects of the art of poetry with one another. Poe called Chivers “one of the best and one of the worst poets in America” and got some of his poems published in magazines. He attempted to persuade Chivers—who was a rich, slave-owning Southerner—to invest money in a magazine edited by Poe. Chivers for his part admired Poe tremendously. His career as a poet ended when, after Poe’s death, a critic suggested that Chivers had plagiarized Poe. Chivers insisted—rightly—that Poe had plagiarized him. His protestations did him little good, however, since Poe was by far the superior poet. In Thomas Holley Chivers Friend of Poe (1930), S. Foster Damon describes Chivers (sympathetically!) as “a poet of Genius but not of Talent.” On today’s show you’ll hear some of Chivers’ more successful efforts along with Poe’s “Ulalume.”