James Marcus Schuyler was born on November 9, 1923, in Chicago. He attended Bethany College from 1941 to 1943 where he studied architecture, history, and literature, before joining the U.S. Navy. In 1947, Schuyler moved to the Isle of Ischia in Italy for two years, where he lived in the rented house of W. H. Auden and worked as his secretary. After returning to the U.S., Schuyler moved to New York City, where he worked in a bookstore and shared an apartment with Frank O’Hara and John Ashbery, poets who later became known as key members of the New York School.
Schuyler’s books of poetry include Other Flowers (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 2010); Collected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1993); Selected Poems (Farrar, Straus and Giroux, 1988); A Few Days (Random House, 1985); The Morning of the Poem (1980), a winner of the Pulitzer Prize for Poetry, first released by Faber & Faber, Limited, then rereleased by Farrar, Straus and Giroux; The Home Book: Prose and Poems, 1951–1970 (Z Press, 1977); The Fireproof Floors of Witley Count: English Songs and Dances (Janus Press, 1976); Song (Kermani Press, 1976); Hymn to Life (Random House, 1972); The Crystal Lithium (Random House, 1972); and Freely Espousing (Doubleday, 1969). He also wrote novels and plays.
Schuyler’s honors include a Longview Foundation award, the Frank O’Hara Prize, two National Academy for the Arts grants, an American Academy award, and an Academy of American Poets fellowship. He also received a fellowship from the National Endowment for the Arts in 1972.
From 1955 to 1961, Schuyler was a curator of circulating exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art. As an editorial associate and critic for Art News he wrote a substantial amount of art criticism and came to befriend many New York artists, notably Willem and Elaine de Kooning, Jane Freilicher, and Fairfield Porter. Between 1961 and 1973, Schuyler lived with Porter and his family in Southampton, Long Island, and at their summer home on an island off the coast of Maine.
Although well-known and successful by the early 1980s, Schuyler turned to a life of seclusion due to his poor health and financial difficulties. Schuyler lived in New York City until his death in 1991.