Letters by Ted Berrigan, edited and introduced by Sandy Berrigan and Ron Padgett
October 12, 2010 • 6 x 9 • 368 pages • 978-1-56689-249-0
Letters illuminating a legendary literary love affair and the young artists who made 1960s New York the world’s cultural capital.
Ted and Sandy Berrigan’s honeymoon ended when her father, a well-connected doctor, forced Sandy into a mental hospital, had Ted run out of town by the sheriff, and hired private detectives to investigate his friends. These intimate, irresistible letters, written over the course of their three-month separation, read like a passionate, epistolary novel—full of longing, intrigue, and gossip. They also offer serious advice for developing readers and writers, bring the thriving cultural scene in mid-twentieth-century New York to life, and serve as a day-by-day chronicle of Ted Berrigan’s developing voice.
In addition to the letters, this collection contains never-before-published reproductions from A Book of Poetry for Sandy, featuring Berrigan’s cutouts, drawings, photographs of fellow poets and artists, and excerpts from poems that eventually became The Sonnets.
About the Author
Ted Berrigan (1934-1983), a central figure in the second generation of New York School poets, was the author of more than twenty books including The Sonnets, So Going Around Cities, and A Certain Slant of Sunlight. The editor and publisher of C Magazine, he also wrote art criticism and became an influential mentor to an entire generation of writers.
“This volume vividly preserves young love through Ted’s letters to Sandy while she was institutionalized—packed with rage, frustration, and thoughts about writing. . . . ‘It’s time for less warm tears and more cold fury,’ writes Ted, transporting the reader to a time when a passionate and impulsive young woman could be committed for behavior contrary to social norms. Even those unfamiliar with Ted’s poetry will be fascinated by the drama inherent in this collection.” —Publishers Weekly, starred review
“If only he’d lived longer, been a bit healthier. Do the human gods have to die young? . . . Excitingly, these letters catch Berrigan on the cusp of the breakthrough. . . . For anybody with a taste for Ted, this book is another sweet addition.” —Bookforum
“In addition to their emotional lovelorn narrative, these letters are valuable because they offer the reader a glimpse inside a poet’s working furnace, just as he’s approaching the peak of his powers. Co-edited by Ron Padgett, who continues to dedicate his substantial literary skills to bringing his best friends back to life, these letters generously rekindle Berrigan’s spirit more than a quarter century after his death.” —Rain Taxi
“In addition to its superlative value as a sourcebook for the run-up to The Sonnets, Dear Sandy, Hello is an astonishing and powerful reminder of, as Sandy puts it in her introduction, ‘what could happen to a young woman in the early 1960s who went against the prevailing norms of behavior.’. . . A sad, and wonderful book about a pair of young lovers who completed each other—for a while.” —Poetry Foundation
“This period in the lives of the Berrigans, we would imagine, marked them both, and publishing the letters makes imagining this period more definite. . . . It’s always fascinating to see such conviction in writing before an author has made anything of himself and addressed to someone who cares, when everything—including whether he will ever see his wife again much less live with her—is still uncertain. These letters from the past matter as epistles toward the future, giving voice to the precariousness of demanding recognition in a struggle on two fronts, for art and for love.” —Quarterly Conversation
“Poets and readers of Berrigan’s poetry will find much of interest in this charming volume. . . . His letters illuminate the underside of his intellectual, allusive body of work. . . . But there is also a great deal of genuine heartache in these letters. . . . . Above all, what is evident in these letters is the development of a serious poetic mind.” —The Prague Post
“A lot of beautiful writing about love and longing and much else. There’s also a great visual section, reprinting some original scrapbook assemblages. All in all a lovely package, rich in language, idea and emotional content.” —Arthur Magazine