The Writer At Rest

Nov 8 2012 @ 9:48am

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Alexis Hauk surveys the burial sites of America's most beloved writers:

Unlike the luminaries housed at more elegant cemeteries, like Pere Lachaise in Paris (Victor Hugo, Marcel Proust, Oscar Wilde, Gertrude Stein, Richard Wright), many literary stars lie for eternity in simpler, plainer spots around this country, with traditions around how to commemorate them as widely varied as the genres they comprise. Some have touching or amusing epitaphs—Charles Bukowski's is "Don't try." The flamboyant persona of Truman Capote, meanwhile, might shudder at the simplicity of his grave marker: His ashes are noted with a plaque on the wall in a cemetery in Westwood Memorial in Los Angeles. (His proximity to the graves of Natalie Wood and Marilyn Monroe might make him smile from that great Tiffany's in the sky). …

e.e. cummings is buried in Forrest Hills cemetery in Boston on a hill overlooking a lake, beneath a tiny rock that you can barely find (even with a map, depending on how many leaves have fallen that day), just a short walk from Anne Sexton's larger, more noticeable tombstone.

Flannery O'Connor's Andalusia Farm grave in Milledgeville, Ga., receives tokens ranging from coins to plastic gorillas (a reference to her story "Wise Blood"). And Sylvia Plath's grave at one time (before the lettering was changed to bronze) saw fans returning again and again to scratch out the name of her philandering poet husband Ted Hughes.

(Photo of the grave of e.e. cummings by David Day, where a commenter notes that the gravestone is in all caps.)