The Who2 Blog

“Ladies and Gentlemen, the 1958 Utopian Turtletop!”

Editor Paul Hehn, at the Modern Poetry desk, has posted a new profile of tricorn hat-wearing poet Marianne Moore.

Moore was a bringing-poetry-to-the-masses hero of the 1950s, known for her “whimsical public persona,” as Mr. Hehn puts it. (The tricorn hat and black cape were her signature garb.) She was popular enough that Ford Motors actually asked her to submit names for a hot new car they planned to launch in 1958.

Among her suggestions:

  • Resilient Bullet
  • Thunder Crester
  • Pastelogram
  • Mongoose Civique
  • Turcotingo
  • Intelligent Whale

Alas, we have no transcript of the meeting where Ford Motors executives opened Moore’s letter and examined her suggestions. It might make a fun read.

We do know that after the execs politely rejected her ideas, Moore came back with a capper: Utopian Turtletop.

Perhaps it’s no surprise that Ford chose a name suggested by an employee instead: the Edsel. And, well, the project was pretty much a bust all the way around.

The failure didn’t seem to daunt Moore, who turned the exchange into a small book. The she moved on to bigger things, like writing a poem with boxing champ Muhammad Ali. You can see a bit of George Plimpton’s account of their meeting here, courtesy of Google Books.

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