As we mourn his death, we celebrate the life and art of our dear friend and colleague J. D. McClatchy. McClatchy, known as Sandy, played many roles on campus, as editor of The Yale Review, fellow of Jonathan Edwards College, and professor of poetry in the Department of English - and in the wider world, as a chancellor of the Academy of American Poets and as president of the American Academy of Arts and Letters.Sandy directed much of his energy to Yale, from teaching the first course in Yale College to address gay writers in 1978 to editing Bright Pages: Yale Writers, 1701-2001.
His connections to Beinecke Library are numerous. His papers reside here, as do those of his former partner, Alfred Corn.Sandy was executor of the estate of James Merrill and helped us build our collection of Merrill’s papers. He served on the Awards Committee for the Bollingen Prize for American Poetry in 1997 and offered support of various kinds to the Prize Director for many years. He wrote the libretto for the opera version of Our Town by Thornton Wilder and was a champion for us in general, encouraging many writers to place their archives here.
Beinecke Library staff will long remember his imposing presence. He was never shy. His loud laughter often announced his presence down the hallway before he appeared, bringing good cheer and tremendous energy.
His legacy will continue in his work, which is evocative and precisely crafted.
Some sample poems that provide a sense of his range can be found online here:
More details of Sandy’s life and work can be read in the obituary published this morning in the New York Times: