November 7, 2009 10:25:00 PM
The late Tennessee Williams, born in Columbus in 1911, is most often associated with the vivid plays and characters he created and twice winning the Pulitzer Prize for Drama. But it is the Mississippi native''s poetry which inspired his induction Thursday, and in a special service today, into the American Poets'' Corner at the magnificent Cathedral Church of Saint John the Divine in New York City.
The Cathedral, in association with the Provincetown Tennessee Williams Theater Festival, presented an evening of poetry and reminiscences Thursday in honor of Williams, the first poet/playwright to be inducted. Stage and film veterans, friends of the writer and others inspired by his work participated, including Eli Wallach, Vanessa Redgrave, Olympia Dukakis, Marian Seldes, Jeremy Lawrence and David Kaplan. Dukakis, Lawrence and Kaplan, the curator of the Provincetown Festival, have all taken part in Columbus'' own Tennessee Williams Tribute and Tour of Victorian Homes. Its chair, Brenda Caradine of Columbus, is attending the celebration in New York.
Williams joins other literary luminaries including Emily Dickinson, Mark Twain, Walt Whitman, Robert Frost and Henry David Thoreau in the Cathedral''s Poets'' Corner, which was created to memorialize American writers and modeled after a similar alcove at Westminster Abbey in London.
This afternoon, a special Choral Evensong service will be held to complete the tribute and to unveil a stone inscribed with Williams'' line, "Time is the longest distance between two places," from "The Glass Menagerie."
That the former Columbian is being honored in the Cathedral of the Episcopal Diocese of New York and the seat of its bishop is poetic in itself. Williams'' first home was the rectory of Columbus'' St. Paul''s Episcopal Church, where his grandfather, the Rev. Walter Dakin, was rector. The historic rectory was eventually moved to its present location at 300 Main St. and now serves as the Tennessee Williams Welcome Center.
Jan Swoope is the Lifestyles Editor for The Commercial Dispatch.