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Henderson

Alice Corbin Henderson
n.d.
Mabel Dodge Luhan Papers

Co-founder with Harriet Monroe of the
seminal magazine, Poetry, A Magazine of Verse, Alice Corbin Henderson was an exacting editor. Of her friend and co-editor—“Alice Corbin, the poet, Alice Henderson, the wife and mother and critic,” Harriet Monroe wrote, “Her round face with its smiling Cupid mouth, blue eyes, and impertinent little nose, set in a pretty tangle of curly blonde hair, looked blandly innocent, never preparing one for the sharp wit which would flash out like a sword. She was a pitiless reader of manuscripts; nothing stodgy or imitative would get by her finely sifting intelligence, and we had many a secret laugh over the confessional ‘hot stuff’ or the boggy word weeds which tender-minded authors apparently mistook for poetry.”1

 

1 Harriet Monroe, A Poet’s Life, New York: Macmillan, 1938, pp. 317-18.

 

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Alice Corbin Henderson’s commitment to American literary traditions included an interest in Southwestern folklore and stories, especially Native American songs and tales, and regional religious traditions. Her book Brothers of Light: The Penitentes of the Southwest (1937), was among the first sympathetic studies of the so-called “whipping brotherhoods,” and their controversial religious practices. She edited an anthology of poetry concerned with New Mexico, The Turquoise Trail (1928), including work by Willa Cather, Mabel Dodge Luhan, and Mary Austin. A poet in her own right, her collections of verse, including Red Earth: Poems of New Mexico (1920) and The Sun Turns West (1933), were well received by critics and enjoyed a wide readership.

 

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