Poetry at Beinecke Library

US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey Reading at Beinecke 2-14

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Exhibitions, Poetry at Yale by beineckepoetry on February 7, 2013

Thursday, 14 February 2013 at 4:30 PM

A Reading from Thrall by US Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey

at Beinecke Library, 121 Wall Street, New Haven, CT

Natasha Trethewey is the 19th United States Poet Laureate (2012-2013). In his citation, Librarian of Congress James Billington wrote “Her poems dig beneath the surface of history—personal or communal, from childhood or from a century ago—to explore the human struggles that we all face.” She is the author of Thrall (2012), Native Guard (Houghton Mifflin), for which she won the 2007 Pulitzer Prize, Bellocq’s Ophelia (Graywolf, 2002), which was named a Notable Book for 2003 by the American Library Association, and Domestic Work (Graywolf, 2000). She is also the author of Beyond Katrina: A Meditation on the Mississippi Gulf Coast (University of Georgia Press).

This event is in conjunction with the Beinecke Library’s current exhibition:

By Hand: A Celebration of the Manuscript Collections of Yale University’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library

On view January 18 – April 29, 2013

By Hand celebrates the fiftieth anniversary of Yale’s Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript with an exploration of its manuscript collections.  The exhibition begins where the Yale College Library collection of early manuscripts began, with a mirror of humanity, a copy of the Speculum humanae salvationis given by Elihu Yale.  It ends with the manuscripts and drafts of “Miracle of the Black Leg,” a poem written by U.S. Poet Laureate Natasha Trethewey while she was a research fellow at the Beinecke Library in 2009.

Manuscript, from the Latin term “by hand,” derives from the ablative case:  locational, instrumental, situated always in relation to something or someone else.  Like the term, this exhibition explores the reflections of humanity in the Beinecke’s manuscript collections, presenting them as markers of the social contracts of love, creativity, need, power, that bind us into historical record even as they bind us to one another.

The exhibition ranges across the Beinecke Library manuscript collections, in an extraordinary display of the Library’s manuscript holdings, from papyri of the 2nd century A.D. through working drafts by contemporary poets, from manuscripts in the original Yale Library to recent additions to the collections. On view are manuscripts, notes, and proof copies of works by Langston Hughes, Rachel Carson, Edith Wharton, Zora Neale Hurston, Terry Tempest Williams, James Joyce, F. T. Marinetti, Goethe, and others; the Voynich Manuscript, the Vinland Map, the Lewis and Clark expedition map and journals, the Martellus map; the last paragraphs of Thoreau’s manuscript of Walden; letters, postcards, poetry, and notes by Ernest Hemingway, Gertrude Stein, Georgia O’Keeffe, Franz Kafka, Mark Twain, Erica Jong, and others;  early manuscripts from a tenth-century Byzantine prayer roll, a fragment of lyric verse on papyri, the Rothschild Canticles, a fourteenth-century ivory writing tablet, and the first illuminated medieval manuscript known in a North American collection.

Image:Natasha Trethewey, working notes for “Miracle of the Black Leg, ca. 2009; loaned by the author to the exhibiton, By Hand

Editing Charlotte Wilder

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Poetry at Yale by beineckepoetry on January 21, 2013

Editing Charlotte Wilder

A talk by Visiting Fellow Caroline Maun
Wednesday, January 30, 2013 – 11:00am

Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Room 38
121 Wall St.
New Haven, CT 06511

The poet Charlotte Wilder (1898-1980) was one of three younger sisters of the novelist and playwright Thornton Wilder, and the oldest daughter in the prolific and literary family. Her poems appeared in magazines such as “Poetry”, “The Nation”, and “The North Georgia Review” in the 1930s, and she published two volumes of poetry, “Phases of the Moon” (1936) and “Mortal Sequence” (1939), both well received by critics. In 1941 she suffered a schizophrenic crisis and was hospitalized. She remained in institutions, with the exception of a brief period living in New York City during the early 1950s, for the rest of her life. Although her aspirations to continue as a professional writer remained, her writing career came to an end with the onset of mental illness.

The life and work of Charlotte Wilder offers a striking case study for issues of authorship and gender in 1930s America. Her previously published but out of print volumes speak uniquely to the aesthetic imperatives and the milieu of modernism. She left behind approximately 200 unpublished poems that reflect her distinctive intellect and emotional landscape. She was at different times both brilliantly experimental and innovatively traditional in her practice, with a broad scope of expertise as a writer and an individual formal trajectory. She crafted poetry with subtlety and surprise.

Completing her term as a Thornton Wilder Fellow in Wilder Studies, Caroline Maun will discuss the rewards and challenges of editing a proposed volume that collects Charlotte Wilder’s published and unpublished verse.

Caroline Maun is Associate Professor of English at Wayne State University in Detroit, MI. She is the editor of “The Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott” (National Poetry Foundation, 2005) and the author of “Mosaic of Fire: The Work of Lola Ridge, Evelyn Scott, Charlotte Wilder, and Kay Boyle” (Univ. of South Carolina Press, 2012). She has published one volume of poetry, “The Sleeping”, and her second volume titled “What Remains” is forthcoming in 2013.

New Research

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Poetry at Yale by beineckepoetry on January 18, 2013

Welcome Thornton Wilder Fellow

Caroline Maun

Wayne State University

The Complete Poems of Charlotte Wilder

Caroline Maun is Associate Professor in the English Department at Wayne State University in Detroit, Michigan.  She is the editor of The Collected Poems of Evelyn Scott (National Poetry Foundation) and Mosaic of Fire: The Work of Lola Ridge, Evelyn Scott, Charlotte Wilder, and Kay Boyle (University of South Carolina Press).  She teaches twentieth-century American literature, creative nonfiction, and poetry.  Caroline will be at the Beinecke through February 1.



Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Poetry at Yale by beineckepoetry on December 4, 2012

What Will Lettrism Turn Out to Be?
Wednesday, December 12, 2012 at 1:00 pm
Beinecke Library, Room 39

Published in 1954, Maurice Lemaître’s What is Lettrism? sought to define a movement that had been making headlines in Paris for nearly a decade. No arena of avant-garde experimentation seemed beyond its reach. Poetry, music, literature, painting, sculpture, architecture—the Lettrists announced a new approach to all of them. And in fact the creative energy unleashed by the movement rippled across postwar Europe (and well beyond) for decades to come. Yet today Lettrism is virtually unknown. Beyond a small coterie of initiates, combatants, and connoisseurs, it is remembered at best as a “precursor” of Situationism, or perhaps an esoteric form of Concrete Poetry. Now finishing a two-month fellowship at Beinecke, Frédéric Acquaviva will reveal some of the discoveries from his first plunge into the massive archive of Maurice Lemaître, acquired by Beinecke in 2009, as he discusses his continuing struggle to define Lettrism’s legacy in the tweny-first century, a task that has kept him busy for more than fifteen years.

Frédéric Acquaviva is a French composer living in Berlin. Working with authors such as Pierre Guyotat and Jean-Luc Parant, Frédéric composes experimental music and sound installations that focus on the possibilities of the voice. He is a specialist in the history of Lettrism and sound poetry and has orchestrated and produced the symphonies of Isidore Isou, Gabriel Pomerand, and Maurice Lemaître. In the last two years, Frédéric curated a major exhibition on Gil J Wolman, I am Immortal and Alive, at Barcelona’s MACBA, the first Parisian retrospective on Lettrism, Bientôt les Lettristes (with Bernard Blistène) in the Passage de Retz, and Specters of Artaud: Language and the Arts in the 1950s (with Kaira Cabanas) at the Reina Sofia in Madrid. He has written monographs on Jacques Spacagna and Bernard Heidsieck, and produced Radio/Phonies, a show on various artists and poets, including Henri Chopin, Marcel Hanoun, Pierre Albert-Birot, and Otto Muehl, for France Culture.

From the Yale Library Gazette Archives

Posted in Beinecke Collections, Poetry at Yale by beineckepoetry on November 20, 2012


Originally published in The Yale University Library Gazette, Vol. 56, No. 1/2 (October 1981), pp. 50-59

As with some of Yale’s most significant collections, especially in contemporary letters, the prime mover behind the acquisition by the library of the first editions and a substantial portion of the papers of William Carlos Williams was the late Norman Holmes Pearson, Professor of English and American Studies (hereafter NHP). While still a graduate student in English at Yale, he had first written to Dr. Williams in 1937 in connection with the Oxford Anthology of American Literature, which he was then editing with William Rose Benêt. Neither Benêt nor NHP knew Williams’s poetry more than superficially, and eight of the eleven poems eventually printed in the Oxford Anthology were included at the suggestion of the author himself, who, more- over, sent typed copies “to save you the expense of buying my books.”

Nullifying Dr. Williams’s effort to save him money, NHP acquired as many of the books as he could find and quickly remedied his lack of familiarity with Williams’s published work, both poetry and prose. Correspondence between the two flourished, and they met in 1938 at Sarah Lawrence and again in 1940. At that second meeting NHP, who was an active member of the Yale Library Associates, communicated to Dr. Williams his eagerness to build up a complete collection of Williams first editions for Yale; a letter written soon afterward mentions especially the first book, Poems (Rutherford, N.J., 1909). Only a few days later, on November 18, Dr. Williams was “tickled to death” to be able to write NHP that he had located a most desirable copy–that given and inscribed by the author to the printer, Reid Howell, and signed by both. It was not for sale, but Howell, who had just passed his eightieth birthday, would be happy to give it to Yale. If NHP in return wished to make a contribution to Dorothy Parker’s fund for the rescue of Spanish children, Dr. Williams added, “consider that I’ve given you my apostolic blessing–you’ve got it anyway.”


Image: Photograph of William Carlos Williams, 1962

Beiencke Collections and Resources:

William Carlos Williams Papers, YCAL MSS 116

William Carlos Williams Papers Image Guide

Yale Collection of American Literature Collection Image Guides

Recent acquisitions can be located in the Beinecke Library’s Uncataloged Acquisitions Database

Detailed descriptions of many related archival collections are available in the Yale Library Finding Aid Database

New From Beinecke Collections

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections by beineckepoetry on November 18, 2012

All We Know: Three Lives by Lisa Cohen, published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Esther Murphy was a brilliant New York intellectual who dazzled friends and strangers with an unstoppable flow of conversation. But she never finished the books she was contracted to write—a painful failure and yet a kind of achievement.

The quintessential fan, Mercedes de Acosta had intimate friendships with the legendary actresses and dancers of the twentieth century. Her ephemeral legacy lies in the thousands of objects she collected to preserve the memory of those performers and to honor the feelings they inspired.

An icon of haute couture and a fashion editor of British Vogue, Madge Garland held bracing views on dress that drew on her feminism, her ideas about modernity, and her love of women. Existing both vividly and invisibly at the center of cultural life, she—like Murphy and de Acosta—is now almost completely forgotten.

In All We Know, Lisa Cohen describes these women’s glamorous choices, complicated failures, and controversial personal lives with lyricism and empathy. At once a series of intimate portraits and a startling investigation into style, celebrity, sexuality, and the genre of biography itself, All We Know explores a hidden history of modernism and pays tribute to three compelling lives.

Beinecke Collections: Gerald and Sara Murphy Papers; Edmund Wilson Papers; Carl Van Vechten Photographs; Muriel Draper Papers; Max Ewing Papers; Rebecca West Papers

More about All We Know: Three Lives by Lisa Cohen

“Notes on Camp”: Review by M. G. Lord in the New York Times

“You Better Not Tell Me You Forgot”: Review by Terry Castle in the London Review of Books

Lisa Cohen Recognizes Trio of Women in ‘All We Know’: Review by Lorna Koski in Women’s Wear Daily

Ezra Pound–New Acquisitions

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Poetry at Yale by beineckepoetry on November 7, 2012

New additions enrich Beinecke’s Pound collection

Recent acquisitions of Ezra Pound letters and manuscripts present new research opportunities in the Beinecke Library’s collection on Modernist literature. Fearless researchers will appreciate Pound’s letters, dense with obscure abbreviations, literary references, and political opinions. The language of his correspondence reflects his erratic, irreverent, and idiosyncratic character.

Beinecke acquires manuscripts relating to all aspects of Pound’s life, though recent acquisitions focus on his time at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital in Washington, D.C. (1945-1958). Tried for treason in 1945 on charges stemming from his broadcasts on Italian radio during the Second World War, Pound was committed to psychiatric care in lieu of prison. Recent acquisitions document his activity during this 12-year confinement, during which he maintained a prolific correspondence.

Pound’s lawyer Robert Furniss advocated for the release of America’s “greatest living poet” who was “mentally incapable of defending himself.” The documents and ephemera in the Furniss collection detail the public controversy surrounding Pound’s incarceration. Correspondence between Furniss and Pound document their legal strategy as Furniss defended “Mental Health No. 31113” (as Pound was identified by the court) from charges of treason.

Reading Pound’s correspondence, researchers can delve in to his relationships with, and influence on, younger poets. Such is the case with Pound’s letters to poet, composer, and performance artist Jackson Mac Low. In addition to discussing literature and politics, Pound defends himself from charges of anti-Semitism with the inflammatory remark that “some kike might manage to pin an antisem lable on me IF he neglected the mass of my writing.”

These new additions complement Beinecke’s vast collection of material relating to Pound and to other figures of the Modernist literary milieu. Beinecke continuously adds to its exciting Modernist collection, which consists not only of the vast and comprehensive literary archives of Pound, H.D., Gertrude Stein, William Carlos Williams, and Mina Loy, but also numerous small collections and individual letters, manuscripts, photographs, works of art, and books.

The recent Pound acquisitions include:

Letters to Rene Taupin, 1928-1932

Letters to Paul-Gustave Van Hecke, 1930

Letters to David Sinclair Nixon, 1937

Letters to Jackson Mac Low, 1946-1955

Letters to Robert Thom, 1949

Letters to Allan Seaton, 1949-1953

Robert Furniss collection of Ezra Pound Papers, 1946-1959

These uncataloged collections are available for research. Researchers may contact the Beinecke Library Reference Staff for further information.

Related collections at the Beinecke include:

Ezra Pound Papers (YCAL MSS 43, YCAL MSS 53)

Ezra Pound Miscellany (YCAL MSS 182)

Olga Rudge Papers (YCAL MSS 54, YCAL MSS 241)

The Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library is open for research year-round and visitors can plan their research or read about fellowship opportunities online. (LC)

Image: Photograph of Ezra Pound at St. Elizabeth’s Hospital, [1954], Olga Rudge Papers (YCAL MSS 54).

Gertrude Gertrude Stein Stein

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Exhibitions, Poetry at Yale, Readings at Beinecke by beineckepoetry on October 25, 2012

“Gertrude Gertrude Stein Stein: What are the Questions?”
by Joan Retallack, poet, essayist, critic, and professor at Bard College

Friday, October 26 at 5:00 pm

a lecture in honor of the exhibition

“Descriptions of Literature”:
Texts and Contexts in the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers
on view October 8–December 14, 2012


the Gertrude Stein Society Meeting
at Beinecke Library,  Friday October 26, 2012
Registration and Information

Alice B. Toklas and Gertrude Stein with Pepe and Basket, [1932]

Gertrude Stein at Beinecke

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections, Exhibitions, Poetry at Yale by beineckepoetry on October 22, 2012

“Descriptions of Literature”:
Texts and Contexts in the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers
Exhibition on view October 8–December 14, 2012

Gertrude Gertrude Stein Stein: What are the Questions?
by Joan Retallack, poet, essayist, critic, and professor at Bard College
Exhibition opening lecture, Friday, October 26 at 5:00 pm

Gertrude Stein Society Meeting
Friday October 26, 2012
Registration and Information

“Descriptions of Literature”: Texts and Contexts in the Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers

Celebrating the recent publication of several new editions of Gertrude Stein’s work, “Descriptions of Literature” explores Stein’s creative process and writing life as documented in materials drawn from the extraordinarily rich Gertrude Stein and Alice B. Toklas Papers housed in the Yale Collection of American Literature. The exhibition considers Stein’s work in various genres, including poetry, fiction, plays, essays, and writing for children, tracing the evolution of key works; additionally, the exhibition reveals something of the environment in which these works were created, from the domestic life Stein shared with Alice B. Toklas, her muse, publisher, companion, and caretaker to her creative interactions with fellow artists and writers Thornton Wilder, Carl Van Vechten, and others. The exhibition offers a portrait of Stein’s life and creative process represented in manuscript drafts, notebooks, typescripts, correspondence, photographs, books and printed materials, and personal effects.

This exhibition was organized with the assistance of Ariel Doctoroff, Y’2013, and Charlotte Parker, Y’2013.

“Descriptions of Literature” carefully considers three of Stein’s works, all recently reissued by the Yale University Press: To Do: A Book of Alphabets and Birthdays (introduced by Timothy Young and illustrated by Giselle Potter; Ida: A Novel (edited by Logan Esdale); and Stanzas in Meditation, The Corrected Edition (edited by Susannah Hollister and Emily Setina).

Poet and critic Joan Retallack will give the exhibition opening lecture, “Gertrude Gertrude Stein Stein: What are the Questions?”, at the Library on Friday, October 26 at 5:00 pm.

The Gertrude Stein Society will hold a one-day symposium at the Beinecke Library on Friday October 26th, 2012.  The event will include two plenary sessions, one on Stanzas in Meditation and the other on the topic of Stein and war, together with a round-table discussion on teaching Stein in the classroom.  Anyone wishing to attend the Symposium must reserve a spot in advance.  You can make your reservation by emailing Stein Society President Amy Moorman Robbins at Amy.Robbins@hunter.cuny.edu. Please put Symposium Reservation in the subject line and include in the email your name, affiliation if any, and contact information.  Additional information about the Stein Society Symposium can be found online: Gertrude Stein Symposium; for more information about the Stein Society, visit their website:   http://www.gertrudesteinsociety.org/index.html.

Image: Gertrude Stein, photographed by Man Ray in 1920.

Welcome Gallup Fellow Wendy Moffat

Posted in Announcements, Beinecke Collections by beineckepoetry on October 10, 2012

Welcome Donald C. Gallup Fellow Wendy Moffat, Dickinson College. Fellowship project: 1917, Impossible Year

Wendy Moffat, Professor of English at Dickinson College in Carlisle, PA, is delighted to be back at the Beinecke, where she was a Gallup Fellow in 2007. Her biography of E. M. Forster (published as A Great Unrecorded History: A New Life of E. M. Forster, Farrar Straus and Giroux, 2010 and E. M. Forster: A New Life, Bloomsbury, 2010) won the Biographer’s Club Prize and was shortlisted for the James Tait Black Prize in the UK, and was chosen as an ALA Stonewall Honor Book, runner-up for the PEN Biography Prize, and a New York Times Ten Best Book for 2010 in the USA. She teaches British modernism, and has recently published on Liberace, queer photography, modern fiction, and the joys of academic administration. She earned both her BA and her PhD in English at Yale.  While at the Beinecke, she will be reading in the Elizabeth Shepley Sergeant papers for her currently untitled book on ethics and affect at the end of the Great War. It begins with five women war correspondents picking their way across a raw battlefield on the Meuse-Argonne front in October, 1918. One of them picks up a grenade.