Letters Written and Not Sent


Product Details

$16.95  $15.59
Red Hen Press
Publish Date
6.0 X 0.2 X 8.9 inches | 0.2 pounds
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About the Author

Culminating a lifetime passion for poetry, art and social justice, businessman William Louis-Dreyfus passed away just days after completing his only book of poems, Letters Written and Not Sent. Born in 1932 on the outskirts of Paris, Louis-Dreyfus came to the United States as a child, after France fell under German occupation. With undergraduate and law degrees from Duke University, he led the commodities-focused Louis-Dreyfus Group for over forty years. A New York City resident, he was President of The Poetry Society of America for a decade. Awarded an M.F.A. from Antioch University, his poems and translations appeared in The New Criterion, Hudson Review, Southwest Review, Plume, AGNI, and Boulevard.


How eerie that William Louis-Dreyfus's poems meditated on death, unswervingly, for years before his actual death in 2016. There's no self-pity in these taut meditations, but a stoicism reflected in the spare, chiseled lines. He was also haunted by secrets, by messages not delivered, by knowledge lost. In 'What Einstein Said, ' the dying physicist utters four final words, but in German, and overheard only by a nurse who couldn't understand him. In 'Suppose, ' the baffled poet turns 'to what poems don't quite tell.' And 'Calling Out' ends by hearing the bleating of ewes whose lambs have been selected for slaughter, calling 'for three full days; and then the calling ends.'
There's rock-bottom integrity, a dignified modesty, and a quizzical, persistent quest for meaning in this collection. It's a final bequest to the living from an intensely generous man.
--Rosanna Warren

The poems of William Louis-Dreyfus testify to an inner life of great richness, but one that freely slipped across the border of the self into the world beyond. He wrote well in poems about the natural world, his relationships with past and present, his desire for justice, and his empathy for those to whom it was denied. This is a fine collection of his work, and it is good to have it at last.
--Charles Martin

What a graceful and beautifully crafted book by a compassionate poet who reminds us of 'how much consolation / is needed and can't be found.' William Louis-Dreyfus's meditations on the warping passage of time that 'clothes everything in losing' are especially poignant here. 'Where, when it comes, will the lightning strike?' he eloquently muses, while still exhorting us, in his wake, to 'Be subject to the dance. / Be seasonably enthralled.'
--Emily Fragos