Wallace Stevens - A Dual Life as Poet and Insurance Executive - A Biography by Alison Johnson
Buy Wallace Stevens: A Dual Life as Poet and Insurance Executive

The World of Wallace Stevens

A 135-minute documentary
Produced, Written, and Directed by
Alison Johnson
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Wallace Stevens - Documentary

Endorsements for the Documentary:

I love this film.  It offers an intimate presentation of one of our most self-protective poets.  The result for me is that I like the person much better--especially as a father.  And I admire his abstractness even more than I had because its protective aspect begins to leak, and the film thereby establishes the life force dialectically driving and being driven by what abstraction can do.
Charles F. Altieri
Rachael Anderson Stageberg Chair
Department of English
University of California/Berkeley
Johnson's documentary/interpretive film on Wallace Stevens is nothing short of brilliant. She makes Stevens, arguably the best American poet of the 20th century, come to life as a person and, as both poet and person, one who matters to our lives. In particular, her revelations about Stevens' thwarted love for a young woman named Sybil Gage reveal a very human Stevens, with whom most of us will identify and sympathize. In addition, the concrete readings and discussions by major Stevens scholars bring his poetry into a fiercely focused relevance to his time. And our own. That said, Johnson has produced a deep unfolding of this poet and his poetry that is itself of the highest lyrical quality. This work shines-- like Stevens' own "highest candle that lights the dark."
Jacqueline Vaught Brogan
Department of English and American Literature
University of Notre Dame
I know that the "life" a man leads is a separate element from his poetry. Still, I found what you brought out—particularly about his marriage—to be of much interest. I had also known nothing about his "muse," or Sybil, and found that part of the film especially intriguing.
Thomas Benet
Son of Stephen Vincent Benét
Former head, editorial page, San Francisco Chronicle
I find your exploration of my grandfather’s relationship to Sybil Gage, who may have inspired some of his greatest poetry, to be fascinating. You’ve got a sound perspective on the poet’s need to displace so much of his social and intellectual energies, and for the young Stevens, his inevitable erotic and romantic urges. 
Peter (Zeke) Hanchak
Wallace Stevens’s grandson

The following Stevens scholars are featured in this documentary:

  • Glen MacLeod is a Professor of English at the University of Connecticut/Waterbury. He is the author of Wallace Stevens and Company: The "Harmonium" Years, 1913-1923 and Wallace Stevens and Modern Art: From the Armory Show to Abstract Expressionism. He is editing a book titled Wallace Stevens in Context, which will be published in 2016.
  • Paul Mariani is the University Professor of English at Boston College. He has published seven volumes of poetry and is the author of biographies of William Carlos Williams, John Berryman, Robert Lowell, Hart Crane, and Gerard Manley Hopkins. His biography of Wallace Stevens will be published in the summer of 2015.
  • John Serio, a professor emeritus at Clarkson University, served as the editor of the Wallace Stevens Journal for twenty-eight years. He also edited The Cambridge Companion to Wallace Stevens and Wallace Stevens: Selected Poems. In the summer of 2015, he will publish a corrected edition of Wallace Stevens's Collected Poems.
  • Alison Johnson, producer, director, and scriptwriter of this documentary, is the author of the biography Wallace Stevens: A Dual Life as Poet and Insurance Executive. She has also written a biography titled Henry James: His Life Revealed Through His Letters.