Writers No One Reads has a great concept:

Highlighting forgotten, neglected, abandoned, forsaken, unrecognized, unacknowledged, overshadowed, out-of-fashion, under-translated writers. Has no one read your books? You are in good company.

Disclaimer: These writers are famous in some part of the internet or the world. Some may be famous in your own family or in your own mind.

I’ve already found a forgotten poet I like a lot, Carolyn Rodgers (1940-2010): “She was a key member of the Black Arts Movement and a student of Gwendolyn Brooks. As so often happens with women in the arts, she was chastised for what men were celebrated for” (e.g., profanity: “they say,/ that i should not use the word/ muthafucka anymo/ in my poetry or in any speech i give./ they say,/ that i must and can only say it to myself…”).

If you’re thinking George Egerton looks like a woman, it’s because she was (she was born Mary Chavelita Dunne); she “eloped to Norway with a violently alcoholic bigamist, living there until he wisely died two years later. But it was in Scandinavia that her writing began to blossom—she was fascinated by Strindberg and Ibsen, and became both the lover and the first English-language translator of Knut Hamsun.” Alas: “When she settled down as a wife and mother, her prose and popularity collapsed.”


  1. Nora Carrington says

    I’d like to nominate Vivian Gornick. She’s a brilliant prose stylist and her book, _The Romance of American Communism_ is the best book — no, the only book — to discuss how and why the most passionately democratic people in the United States subjected themselves to Cominterm discipline. A feminist Studs Terkel, but with uumph.

  2. Nobody might be a stretch here, but he certainly isn’t as widely read as he deserves, and I’m sure Emerson will back me up, since he introduced me to this genius, in this very establishment no less: Kenneth Rexroth, both his poems and essays. I did have trouble getting past the opening of his “autobiographical novel” — in fact, I failed — because he’s as interested in his own genealogy as Nabokov.

  3. WhenIwasatschool, I elected to do an analysis of a poem by a Canadian great-uncle of mine. The teacher complained that a couple of lines didn’t quite scan. I was able to demonstrate that it did if the old boy still thought in the pronunciation and rhythms of, well obviously, Annandale – even though he’d lived in Canada for decades.
    If I still had his slim volume I’d tell you his name. Alas ….

  4. dearieme, does no one in your family know the name? perhaps if you googled “Canadian poets” or “Canadian poetry” you would find a list and recognize his name or that of his book. Even the most obscure poets must be mentioned in reference works on “CanLit” (not an official name, but used very often among Canadian literary scholars). Wikipedia usually mentions such works in their lists of references.

  5. Well, how come the teacher didn’t speak Annandalish himself? I thought it was the language of the playground.

  6. Brett and dearieme: I accidentally deleted your comments in the course of cleaning out spam; please repost!

  7. To m-l I offered my thanks, adding that I once googled my step-grandfather who was a Hollywood actor – I found a youtube of him hamming away.
    To AJP I replied that “Corkie” was an Aberdonian not a local. In his class we spoke, of course, Scots English. As I did with my parents.

  8. There’s no reason why Dearieme’s teacher should have been a local, but there is very good reason why, if he was, he would have thoroughly repressed everything he know about his native speech.

  9. “if he was, he would have thoroughly repressed everything he know about his native speech.” Why so? My native speech – that it to say, what we spoke at home – was Scots English. I learnt Scots in the playground so that it was, in a sense, not my native speech i.e. not the lingo I learnt first after birth.

  10. marie-lucie says

    dearieme, so what was the language of the poems?

  11. Dearieme, I meant your teacher, who (unless I miss my guess) would have been as a consequence of his profession and his generation expected to speak English only, perhaps even with an RP-ish accent, and perhaps go so far as to pretend not to understand Scots.
    Depending on how old you were when you got to the playground, you may have grown up with two native languages. After all, the children of immigrants do not speak with the (foreign) accent of their parents: they learn the language and accent of the playground, and may or may not speak their parents’ native language.

  12. The language of the poems was English: I suppose it was an ordinary Canadian English, but I can’t remember whether he lived in Ontario or BC (those being the parts that bits of my family had gone too).
    John, I think your guess is off. “Corkie” spoke in Scots English – no hint of RP – and I’ll bet he understood (and could slip into) “the Doric”, in the sense of the Scots of Aberdeen and its environs. He was certainly a very strong advocate of the fine A Scots Quair trilogy, which has quite a bit of said lingo in its dialogue, modified to make it more intelligible to nonScots (and indeed to nonAberdonians). (In my view the particular volume “Sunset Song” is better than fine, it is excellent.)
    P.S. “Corkie” = Mr McCorquodale. I’ve no idea how we knew he was from Aberdeen – like much that schoolboys know it might have been blethers, but looking back I’ve no particular reason to doubt it. Anyway, not local. An excellent teacher and, though a bit of a Red, he took my teasing pretty well, expressing exasperation only once that I can remember. Our maths teacher, Mr Kinloch, was likewise excellent, and we also had very fine teachers of History and Geography. Lucky us, I say.

  13. English only, perhaps even with an RP-ish accent,
    Goodness, John. Surely you’ve seen Maggie Smith in The Prime of Miss Jean Brodie? That’s not RP.

  14. Ah, Morningside-ish where “sex is what the coal comes in”. My mother’s accent had quite a bit of that in it.

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