‘Poignant and fiercely intelligent, this is the best work of creative non-fiction I have read in years’ FIONA MOZLEY
In April 1931, modernist poet Hart Crane arrived in Mexico City. Between mood swings, dire financial difficulties, and a rotating series of personal estrangements, Hart was struggling to make the parts of a fragmentary world cohere. This move to Mexico was one in a long list of attempts to find security. In just over a year he would be dead.
In July 1932, Grace Crane picks up the morning paper. Scanning the headlines, she is halted on page five. Her son’s eyes stare back at her, tinted pink by the thin paper: ‘POET LOST AT SEA FROM SHIP’.
Hart Crane’s last year has accrued a morbid mythology, seen as a period of self-destructive creative drought. In Stronger than Death Francesca Bratton tracks Hart’s year among the vibrant artistic and political communities of Mexico City. His story is interwoven with that of his mother, exploring Grace’s lifelong frustrated creativity and, after his death, debilitating grief. Finally the book explores Hart’s legacy as a queer man and as a poet, informed by Francesca’s responses to his work during her own periods of struggling with mental illness.
Part-memoir, part-biography, Stronger than Death is a profound and lyrical meditation on grief, mental health, enduring love and the power of poetry.