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  • NYS Writers Institute

Poetry Friday: "What fresh hell is this?"

"What fresh hell is this?"

-- Dorothy Parker (1893 - 1967)

Dorothy Parker in the backyard of her residence at 412 West 47th Street, NYC, in 1924.

(NYPL Digital Collections)

Dorothy Parker wrote poetry, short stories, journalism, screenplays, Broadway plays, satire, and reviews. And witticisms. See above and below.

  • "If you want to know what God thinks of money, just look at the people he gave it to."

  • "That woman speaks eighteen languages and can’t say ‘No’ in any of them."

  • Creativity is a wild mind & a disciplined eye.”

  • "I like to have a martini, two at the very most. After three I’m under the table, after four I’m under my host."

Writing about writing, she is said to have said:

  • “I hate writing, I love having written.”


  • “If you have any young friends who aspire to become writers, the second greatest favor you can do for them is to present them with copies of The Elements of Style. The first greatest, of course, is to shoot them now while they’re happy."

In the video below, Writers Institute Director Paul Grondahl discusses Dorothy Parker's words, legacy, and a wild story about her final resting place with Kevin C. Fitzpatrick.

Kevin is the author of eight non-fiction books -- including A Journey Into Dorothy Parker’s New York, Dorothy Parker Complete Broadway, 1918-1923, and Under the Table: A Dorothy Parker Cocktail Guide. He also founded The Dorothy Parker Society in 1998.

Dorothy Parker remains the standard of Jazz Age sophistication and perhaps the most famous member of the Algonquin Round Table, a group of writers who traded witticisms over lunch at the Algonquin Hotel in New York City during the Roaring Twenties.

She sold her first poem to Vanity Fair in 1914 and became a regular contributor to Vogue. She was also inaugural member of the board of editors at the New Yorker and frequently contributed short poems to its pages.


On Being a Woman

by Dorothy Parker

Why is it, when I am in Rome

I'd give an eye to be at home,

But when on native earth I be,

My soul is sick for Italy?

And why with you, my love, my lord,

Am I spectacularly bored,

Yet do you up and leave me - then

I scream to have you back again?


by Dorothy Parker

Four be the things I am wiser to know:

Idleness, sorrow, a friend, and a foe.

Four be the things I’d been better without:

Love, curiosity, freckles, and doubt.

Three be the things I shall never attain:

Envy, content, and sufficient champagne.

Three be the things I shall have till I die:

Laughter and hope and a sock in the eye.


(Note: the audio cuts out a bit in some parts.)


Dorothy Parker's books, including The Portable Dorothy Parker, first published 1944, are available at the local, independent Book House of Stuyvesant Plaza:

Kevin C. Fitzpatrick's books are also available at:


Dorothy Parker Memorial Fund : to support the final resting place of writer & poet Dorothy Parker in Woodlawn Cemetery, The Bronx.


188 pages from the FBI's Dorothy Parker file:



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