I don't know whether to identify this book as a memoir or autobiography. By the title, you'd think it was coming of age in college story, and it's definitely not that. Kathleen Norris writes mostly about her early, post-virgin 20s working at the Academy of American Poets under the direction of Betty Kray. Kray is definitely a subject worth reading and writing about, but I have to admit I was a little annoyed throughout the book that it didn't really deliver what I expected. I should probably get over that.
What the book does deliver is a loving slice of the late 60s/early 70s NYC poetry scene and an homage to its largely unsung—undersung?—hero, Betty Kray, who directed the Academy after leaving the 92nd St. Y and who was the inspiration for or driving force behind many other poetry initiatives, including Poets House. Norris's story of finding her own voice and place in poetry—and out of NYC—is medium interesting, and you end up admiring her for going her own way, but really it's a little too back and forth for me. I think aspiring poets and other artists will appreciate her journey.
Also of interest: Neither Kray nor Norris had children. Both Kray, who married in the 40s went by her family, rather than married name, as does Norris, who married in the 70s.
Betty intended that one of the functions of the Poets House library would be 'to gather fugitive materials such as [small-press books], magazines, chapbooks, and other ephemeral publications,' without which poets and scholars would find it "impossible to re-create the sense of a literary epoch." p.177