Making Modernism

Letter from Eunice Tietjens to Harriet Monroe, 1916

In this letter, Eunice Tietjens responds to Harriet Monroe's news that Alice Corbin Henderson, assistant editor of Poetry magazine, had been diagnosed with tuberculosis and was unable to continue working full time for Poetry. This letter illustrates the network of female editors that helped to create a flourishing poetry scene in Chicago and highlights the global concerns that figures like Tietjens brought back to the Midwest from her travels abroad.

Tietjens had traveled to San Francisco for the 1915 World's Fair and had then continued on to China and Japan. She sent back regular dispatches to Monroe and to Henderson, informing them that poetry was appallingly absent from the World's Fair's literary displays. Her devotion to making poetry more visible to Americans can be seen in this letter, in which she offers to cut short her world travels in order to help keep the Poetry offices functioning smoothly in Henderson's absence. Tietjens made her way back to Chicago shortly after composing this letter, stopping briefly in New Mexico to visit the ailing Henderson. Like Tietjens's correspondence with Margery Currey (see above), this letter points to the often overlooked contributions of women like Tietjens to the Chicago Renaissance. Tietjens had a reputation for being a less demanding critic than Monroe, who pulled no punches in her correspondence with would-be poets, and that reputation made it easy for literary historians to downplay Tietjens's contributions to Poetry magazine. But Tietjens, like Henderson, was an energetic champion of Poetry's cause, and her concern with Chinese and Japanese poetics, like Henderson's interest in the poetry of the American Southwest, informed Poetry's aesthetic mission throughout the 1910s, '20s, and '30s.

-Erin Kappeler, Missouri State University

Link to the finding aid for this collection

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