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Bust of T.S. Eliot unveiled in Central West End near Left Bank Books

This article first appeared in the St. Louis Beacon, Sept. 27, 2010 - T.S. Eliot and Tennessee Williams are now Central West End neighbors -- or at least their busts are. Eliot's likeness was unveiled this past Sunday at the corner of Euclid and McPherson Avenues in front of Left Bank Books and across the street from Williams' bust, which was installed in 2007 at the entrance to Rothschild's Antiques.

Sponsored by the Central West End Association with financial help from the Regional Arts Commission and the T.S. Eliot Society, the bust by artist Vlad Zhitomirsky honors Eliot's roots growing up in St. Louis. As a teenager, Eliot also lived in the Central West End.

Even when Eliot was living in England, he viewed his poetry as American, born from the landscape of St. Louis and the shores of Massachusetts where he lived after his time in St. Louis, said David Chinitz, the society's president and professor of English at Loyola University in Chicago, at the unveiling.

Melanie Fathman, an architectural historian and former president of Landmarks Association of St. Louis, also briefly spoke. Boo McLoughlin, executive director of the Craft Alliance, read two of Eliot's poems: one selection from the collection "Old Possum's Book of Practical Cats" that served as the basis for the musical "Cats" (and the inspiration for refreshments at the unveiling) and "Dry Salvages" from "Four Quartets."

The Central West End Association hopes to complete a "writer's corner" at the intersection of McPherson and Euclid avenues, said board member Jeff Fister. The association plans to install two more busts of St. Louis writers -- William Burroughs and Kate Chopin -- at the two other corners of the intersection. With the independent Left Bank Books and the many poetry readings at local cafes and restaurants, Fister said he was proud to celebrate the corner's "proud literary history."

Alex Sciuto is an intern at the Beacon. 

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