As the frequency of holiday parties will inevitably increase over the next few weeks, you may find yourself running out of conversation topics to bring up around the punch bowl. Here's my go-to as of late: which modern artists are true polymaths? (A polymath, according to Wikipedia, is a person whose expertise spans a significant number of different subject areas. Leonardo da Vinci's picture comes up next to this definition.) Listen to what people have to say about this - it's interesting! And a great answer for you, if you want my opinion, is Sandra Hochman.
Who is Sandra Hochman?
Hold on tight, kids, because I really like Sandra Hochman. So, here goes...
I am slightly ashamed that before starting my job with Turner Publishing, I had no idea who Sandra Hochman was. I suspect that most people my age or younger won’t know her either, so I’ll give you a rundown on this living legend. Plus, you'll need it for your party debate.
Born in Manhattan in 1936. Virgo. Graduate of Bennington College 1957. Winner of Yale Series of Younger Poets Award for Manhattan Pastures in 1963 and nominated for the Pulitzer Prize the same year. Novelist, feminist, filmmaker, journalist, painter, actress, playwright, teacher, mother, wife, ex-wife, and above all else, poet. She is the quintessential polymath.
Author of eight novels and memoirs, seven volumes of poetry, author of two nonfiction books, playwright of 12 musicals, filmmaker of the 1973 documentary Year of the Woman, author and illustrator of a book of paintings, journalist for The New Yorker and Harpers Bazaar, The New York Times under Arthur Gelb, among others.
Typing up this amazing body of work reminds me of why I find myself star-struck almost every time I speak with Sandra. She has a way of launching into her captivating backstories without preface or abandon. She has an openness paired with shrewdness, an air of wisdom while seeming fresh, a serious amount of self-confidence without an ounce of condescension. I’ve often turned to the word “enigmatic” when describing her to my friends.
Now, at 81, she’s still inspired. Talk to most artists about what they really want out of life, and that’s it. She writes by hand for hours a day. She does not use a cellphone or email. In the background, classical music is always playing. Electric, magnetic, frenetic, even over the phone.
She surrounded herself with extraordinary people; or rather, extraordinary people wanted to be around her. She ran with the likes of Pablo Neruda, Jean-Paul Sartre, Simone de Beauvoir, James Jones, Anais Nin, Saul Bellow, Fritz Lowe, Rita Gardner, Sidney Lumet, Robert Lowell, Andy Warhol… the list goes on and on. But while Sandra certainly enjoyed the acclaim she did receive, she was never as fame-oriented as some of the aforementioned peers. She was experience-driven in a way that leads to a varied body of work rather than solely honing on one medium. And, thereby achieving polymath status.
- Leslie at Turner Publishing
The Shakespeare Conspiracy is a work of fiction to be published on 2/27/2018. The 251-page novel boasts a lovely cover design by our own Maddie Cothren.
From the synopsis: For fifteen years Anne Hathaway kept a diary. It was no ordinary diary, as Anne, an excellent writer of poems and songs in her own right, was also the wife of the world's most famous poet and playwright, William Shakespeare. In its pages she reveals the man she knew and loved and their shared life full of triumph and tragedy. Pulitzer-prize nominated poet Sandra Hochman's imagining of Mrs. Shakespeare is both a thoughtful take on one of the greatest mysteries in Western literature and the story of two people who would change the English language forever.