I don't read a lot of poetry as such because my favorites rhyme and are silly; so nothing since Old Possum really. (In my defense, I pay a lot of attention to song lyrics, and enjoy a slant rhyme or an unusual rhythm, otherwise, as you may have noticed, I read a lot of children's books which meet both my criteria but aren't usually labeled "poetry"). I honestly can't remember if I read this in its entirety back in the day: there were a lot of English literature classes, and a lot of reading, only a small portion of which actually stuck, although I can usually guess the age and author within a hundred years or so, so, you know, I learned context, and that's something, right? (Please Mr. Edwards, don't feel that your teaching was in vain.)
Whatever got me thinking about Wilde got me reading up on him in Wikipedia, and got me wondering about the validity of Ellman's biography (which I dearly loved, but it's been more than 20 years, so it is a bit vague now) and from one thing to another down the rabbit hole until I read the Ballad of Reading Gaol. Despite it's complete lack of silliness I quite enjoyed it, and found it very moving. But the real shocker was how many of its lines I had seen quoted, without recognizing the source before. Woah.
Wilde was foolish to file the suit, but damn, no one deserves what he endured (he and others, so many others) for love.
I am not a huge Lovecraft fan. I'm not a Lovecraft fan at all. I understand why he is a touchstone and all that, but yeah, he's not for me. So outside of the two characters, there are probably some Lovecraft references I missed.
This is a fine book about racism, society, and what society makes people become. LaValle gets so many points for the wonderful story arc that kicks Hollywood stories to the curb.
Overall the writing is beautiful (though the kindle edition has at least two run-ons that jarred). This novella is a brillant work of criticism and homage to Lovecraft as well as indictment of USA past and present.
And it is a story about music too.