cover image WATER FROM A BUCKET: A Diary, 1948–1957

WATER FROM A BUCKET: A Diary, 1948–1957

Charles Henri Ford, . . Turtle Point, $16.95 (256pp) ISBN 978-1-885586-20-9

Ford is a furtive treasure of the American avant-garde. This artist's artist and poet's poet has had a remarkably energetic, fecund and varied existence. By turns bizarre and sweetly domestic, this fractured, infinitely interesting diary begins with his father's illness and ends with the death of his lover Pavel Tchelitchev, the Russian painter with whom he lived for 23 years. Ranging from New York to Geneva to Paris, the diary presents an array of artists and their affiliates, from the Sitwells to Peggy Guggenheim (who had on her wall a "mess signed Jackson Pollock) and Djuna Barnes (with whom Ford had lived while she wrote Nightwood). Born in 1908, Ford made his first literary foray in the 1920s from his Mississippi home with Blues: A Magazine of New Rhythms, with work by Ezra Pound, Gertrude Stein, Erskine Caldwell and Paul Bowles. When he moved to New York, he collaborated with film critic Parker Tyler on what has been called the first gay novel, The Young and Evil, published in 1933 and banned in the U.S. and England. At 21 he joined Paris's expatriate community. His poetry books include The Garden of Disorder, introduced by William Carlos Williams, and Sleep in a Nest of Flowers, with a foreword by Edith Sitwell. He launched View magazine in 1940, publishing Marcel Duchamp and the first translations of André Breton's poems. This diary offers richly observed details, both quotidian and unusual, constituting a delightful, moving, poetic portrait of a man and a subculture. (June)