Sunday, September 14, 2008
EDWARD FIELD, POET, AGED 83
Edward Field was raised on Long Island and came to New York City after serving as a navigator in the Army Air Corps in World War II. He has published eight books of poetry, including “Frieze for a Temple of Love” and “Counting Myself Lucky.”
“Bohemian” was an adjective, not a noun in the 1950s. It was people working on creative things, who wanted to fulfill themselves and fuck bourgeoisie ambition, and not to follow the standard course laid out for you by conventional society. Success was not your goal. If it happened, you tried to keep your integrity. One of the main principles of bohemian culture was sexual liberation.
I had poems published from the 1940s, but I didn’t get a book published until 1963. I never had money success, unless money success was having enough money to live on, which I did. That is remarkable in itself.
The main thing was that you had to earn money for your analyst. Whatever it was, it was more than I could afford. If it was $25 a session, it was a week’s salary.
Bohemian life in the West Village ended in the mid-1970s with gentrification. The Village became unlivable. The whole tradition grounded in one area became unavailable to young artists. In a sense, when the mother country died, it was a diaspora. Sexual freedom had already spread around the country, even gay liberation. The one thing that didn’t spread was the leftist political radicalism.
I came to Westbeth in 1971. Neil moved in in 1976. At the beginning, Westbeth was open to the world. Now it is an island in the West Village. There are still all the old lefties here. The young people and the old people have very little to do with each other. The young people in Westbeth just see it as housing. They are not from the old Village. They are trying to make it.