The Wild Party (poem)
Upon its 1928 publication, the poem was widely banned, first in Boston, for having content viewed as wild as the titular party. Despite and perhaps in part due to the controversy surrounding the work, it was a success, although March's subsequent projects, viewed when published as at least slightly less controversial, were more mainstream.
Show people Queenie and her lover Burrs, who live in a decadent style that March depicts as unique to Hollywood, decide to have one of their parties, complete with illegal bathtub gin and the couple's colorful, eccentric and egocentric friends, but the party does not unfold without more tumultuous goings-on than planned. Each of the primary characters is vibrant and established.
A new hardcover edition was released in 1994 with the subtitle The Lost Classic. It featured about fifty black-and-white illustrations by Art Spiegelman, a long-time admirer of the poem. In his introduction to the volume, Spiegelman recalls his first meeting with William Burroughs. He indicates that the conversation was stilted until Spiegelman asked if the elderly Burroughs had ever encountered March's poem. "Burroughs had first read the book in 1938, when he was a graduate student at Harvard," Spiegelman wrote. "'The Wild Party,' [Burroughs] mused '...It's the book that made me want to be a writer.'" Spiegelman recalls that Burroughs then recited the opening couplet of the poem, in a manner that gave Spiegelman the impression that Burroughs could have continued the recitation, perhaps even to the final lines.
The Wild Party was adapted into a poorly received film version, in 1975, and two stage musicals, both produced in New York City in the same 1999–2000 theater season. Michael John LaChiusa's version, directed by George C. Wolfe was mounted on Broadway and the other version, by Andrew Lippa, performed off-Broadway.
The Wild Party has been translated into French, German, Spanish and Swedish.