Hard Cover. Saint Paul: Graywolf Press, 1985. First Edition. Fine / Dust Jacket Included.
Introduction by Ralph Ellison. First edition, first printing. Presentation copy, inscribed by Ellison on the title page: "For Harold F. Mays / That admirable book-sleuth with / pleasure / Sincerely / Ralph Ellison." Additionally signed by Charles Wright on p. 310. Publisher's green cloth-backed black boards stamped in gilt, black endpapers; original black dust jacket designed by Tree Swenson, lettered in green and yellow, photo of writing pad taken by Paul Boyer to front panel. Fine book; fine unclipped dust jacket. Includes near fine typed promotional letter, with horizontal folding crease, light creasing, and a hint of toning to edges. Overall, a pristine signed copy with a very nice association. Buying Time celebrates the 20th anniversary of the Literature Program of the National Endowment for the Arts. It brings together works from twenty-five well-known writers who benefited from fellowships and awards and were given, according to the book's jacket flap, the "most treasured of gifts to an artist: time to create." Composed of poetry, prose, and drama, writers represented in the book include John Ashbery, Raymond Carver, W. S. Merwin, Mary Oliver, Cynthia Ozick, Alice Walker, Tobias Wolff, Rita Mae Brown, Robert Duncan, Louise Erdrich, Tess Gallagher, Allen Ginsberg, Maxine Hong Kinston, and Alice Walker, among others. This copy is inscribed by Ralph Ellison, the great American author whose most famous work, Invisible Man, was awarded the National Book Award in 1953. Ellison had a strong personal connection with the National Endowment for the Arts, as he won the organization's National Medal of Art in 1985. The book is also signed by the poet Charles Wright, whose poem, The Other Side of the River, is included in the anthology. Wright's poetry book, Black Zodiac, was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in 1998, and in 2014 he served as the 20th Poet Laureate of the United States. Ellison inscribed this book to Harold F. Mays, who collected thousands of first edition books with his partner, Harold Herman. Upon the couple's death, many personal correspondences with great African American authors were discovered in their home, including "notes from Fanny Ellison, the widow of 'Invisible Man' author Ralph Ellison, and famed black poets Rita Dove and Gwendolyn Brooks." Harold Mays and his partner lived together openly in an interracial relationship for more than 50 years in Washington D. C., beginning in 1965 when it was particularly dangerous to do so. Their story was documented in the 2008 book, Sweet Tea: Black Gay Men of the South. Included with the book is a typed promotional letter from Marvin Liebman, who served as the director of special projects for the National Endowment of the Arts between 1982 and 1987. This particular letter was sent to Jack R. Lemmon, who served as Dance Program specialist and administrator with the National Endowment of the Arts from 1984 to 1990. Item #RE002