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CBS2’s Mary Calvi Writes New Book: “If a Poem Could Live and Breathe”

new york – CBS2’s Mary Calvi’s new book comes out February 14th.

“If a Poem Could Live and Breathe” is Teddy Roosevelt’s first love novel, based on an original Gilded Age love letter.

Calvi is able to see and transcribe the letters, most of which are published for the first time.

Discovering Roosevelt and his influence on history reveals an emotionally intense and painfully beautiful relationship.

CBS2’s Maurice DuBois interviewed Mary about her new book.

“‘Darling Alice, I just wrote to my family that I will be coming out next Saturday as I have something important to tell them. Of course they will guess what it is.’ “And her letter to him is this, ‘Dearest, I have time to write you a few lines before it is time to go to bed. How much I miss you.’ I can’t imagine…a lot of kisses and always love you Alice.The two have had a long relationship.”

Alice Hathaway Lee, Teddy Roosevelt, Cousin Rose (standing).

Harvard Houghton Library

Dubois: how did you get on the trail How did you first notice something here?

Kalbi: As you probably know, I’m a so-called “N” geek, so I had a hunch.

Dubois: I’m surprised you have such a hunch about such things.

Kalbi: If a man writes in his diary over and over again about this woman he is totally in love with, don’t tell him he treasures those love letters and keeps them somewhere… And suddenly an X marks the spot. I had a treasure trove of letters. I couldn’t believe it. I was almost on the floor… The letter was privately donated to Harvard University and was under family papers, so it was there.

Dubois: there, forever.

Kalbi: I started researching Alice. When you start by looking at the woman you’re in a relationship with, you’ve centered everything around her… look at Alice.

Dubois: So the history books put her away and ignored her. why do you think that is?

Kalbi: For some reason, they didn’t feel Alice was important, but not at all. If it wasn’t for Alice, she might have had Theodore Roosevelt, who was a scientist…but a man she might never have been president.

Dubois: this [letter] Here, “Darling baby, I’ve been studying hard all day.”

Kalbi: “I’m so happy I can hardly believe how happy I am. Last Sunday night was almost like a dream. Goodbye, darling. Your dear you.” She called him “you.” … throughout it feels like being in their world. Oh my god, I felt like I was breaking in over and over again.

Dubois: You’re a determined and relentless reporter who tracks information, but you also have a full-time job. you have a family too You’re the First Lady of Yonkers…you’ve been doing all this stuff. how does this happen?

Kalbi: Some do yoga, some paint. And for me, researching and writing history is a vacation… I wanted to really build her character and make her a symbol of the times to help people understand what a woman is going through. I spent a lot of time doing it. Look at it. And maybe it provides us with new research. We’ll look at that period in his life to determine if he was more influential than people thought.

Dubois: How do you feel reading this very personal and connecting letter?

Kalbi:I was very impressed. I was almost in tears. I was, I really was.

Dubois: why?

Kalbi: Well, because you are really close to their feelings. I mean, you’re really in their world.

Dubois: When we think of Teddy Roosevelt, we think of ‘tough guy’. He was shot in his chest after his inauguration. he survived. The Rough Riders who led San Juan Hill, right? Bully the pulpit, speak quietly, and hold a big stick. That’s Teddy Roosevelt. And we hear this.

Kalbi: The Teddy Roosevelt we all know is not the Teddy Roosevelt of 19 and 20 years old. It’s really painfully beautiful, and I believe it’s the story of the man who became president.

Dubois: We found the love story that changed the course of history, Mary Calvi. And no one else has seen this. So this is breaking new ground again.

Kalbi: He wants to be a naturalist. That’s really what he wants to do. He puts science aside and writes to his friend in order to keep my attention fully focused on this one goal of his. And I think one goal was to win the heart of Alice Hathaway Lee. That’s the only answer as to why he changed his career path. Others may say otherwise, but show me the evidence. Because I can’t see

An image of a love letter from Teddy Roosevelt to Alice Hathaway Lee.

Harvard Library, Alice Roosevelt Longworth Family Papers

Dubois: You said he was really attracted to her heart, her thoughts. And high on that list were women’s rights. She felt that equality was real and she needed to achieve it.

Kalbi: He talks about women deserving the same rights as men…and he’s a college senior giving this speech at a commencement exercise. “I don’t think women should take on men’s names,” he underlines. And I believe their relationship influenced the speech he gave because at this time Maurice was very worried about losing her.

Dubois: You write that he thinks ‘if poetry could live and breathe’ – there’s a title – ‘Alice Hathaway Lee would be that title’. Where did that come from? ?

Kalbi: To be honest, she was like poetry to him. And for him, it felt like the words had jumped off the page and had the poem in front of him.

Dubois: “My beloved wife.” “Wifi” Wifi? seriously?

Kalbi: every time.

Dubois: “Darling Wifi?”

Kalbi: Here is “beloved”. So we can go on and on and on and on. “Darling Alice” “Darling Queenie”. I mean all the beautiful names he could give her, he did.

Dubois: Your heart must be pounding reading this. Oh my God

Kalbi: fault. Here they are in front of me. yes. Really, really unbelievable. I was overwhelmed by it. And I felt like there was a treasure in front of me. I really did. It really was.

Dubois: Thank you for excavating. Wow.

Calvi is hosting a number of events to celebrate the launch in the region.

  • Sunday, February 12 at 1:00 PM at Bookends Bookstore in Ridgewood, NJ
  • 7:00 p.m. Tuesday, February 14 at Roosevelt House, Long Island University, Greenvale, Long Island
  • 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, February 15 at Molloy University’s Madison Theater in Rockville Center, Long Island
  • 6:30 p.m. Friday, February 17, at the Riverfront Library in Yonkers, County Westchester
  • 2:00 p.m. Saturday, February 18, Scarsdale, County Westchester at Barnes and Noble in Eastchester
  • Monday, February 19, at 3:00 p.m. at the Hudson River Museum in Yonkers, County Westchester
  • Thursday, February 23, 6 p.m. at Elm Street Books, New Canaan, Connecticut CBS2’s Mary Calvi Writes New Book: “If a Poem Could Live and Breathe”

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