life of letters

Key West’s life of letters is preserved in manuscripts, letters, journals, photographs, maps, and other documents, from collections in Key West and around the world. It comes alive in these posts through interviews, essays, image collections, and commentary featuring writers who work under the influence of the island city and its literary heritage.


Quite Delightful Rather than Frightening

The 5 pm update on Tropical Depression Three shows the forecast models in agreement. Among the little joys of life in the subtropics are the less-than-serious storm events the hurricane season can bring. Above, you see Tropical Depression Three, which may mature into Tropical Storm Bonnie as it enters the …Read More


Subtle Big Things
talking with Frank Bruni

In this interview with Arlo Haskell, Born Round author Frank Bruni reflects on his time as restaurant critic at The New York Times, shares his cure for the common hangover, and talks about why food has such a hold on today’s popular culture.


Bipolar Alien: James Tate @ KWLS 2010

Stuart Krimko’s close reading of James Tate’s “The Cowboy” explores Middle American Surrealism, the conditioned reflex of laughter in crowds, and modern isolation through a fun-house lens in which Tate’s work shares space with Elizabeth Bishop’s “Crusoe in England.”


Royal Poinciana, part two

As promised, and right on schedule: the Royal Poincianas all over the island are now in full bloom.


Dear Miss Moore / Royal Poinciana

The Royal Poinciana trees have just begun to set out their flowers. By the end of the month, the entire canopies will be full of the bright red or orange blossoms. Elizabeth Bishop was 26 years old when she first visited Key West in 1938. Her letters from that year, …Read More


JAMES LEO HERLIHY
The Midnight Cowboy in Key West

James Leo Herlihy was born in Detroit in 1927 and raised there and in Chillicothe, Ohio. He lived in New York City, Los Angeles, and, off and on from 1957 to 1973, in Key West, where he became “captivated,” finding it “a wonderful place to work and write.”


From the Archives

John Malcolm Brinnin helped establish New York City’s 92nd St. Y as a national focal point for poetry in the 1950s and was a crucial influence on the Key West Literary Seminar in our early years. The author of Grand Luxe: The Transatlantic Style, he was also a great fan of travel aboard luxury ocean liners, the now-extinct class of which the QE2 was the highest iteration. Rita Dove, at the time, was the nation’s poet laureate.