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Paul Blackburn Papers

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Scope and Contents

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Detailed Description

Correspondence

Manuscripts

Photographs

Artwork



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Paul Blackburn Papers, 1935-1967 | MS Manuscripts

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Collection Overview

Title: Paul Blackburn Papers, 1935-1967Add to your cart.

Predominant Dates:1935-1967

ID: MS/MS/ms014

Primary Creator: Blackburn, Paul (1937-)

Extent: 1.0 Boxes

Date Acquired: 07/03/1968

Languages: English

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The Paul Blackburn Papers consists mostly of letters from Blackburn to Walter Hamady, owner of Perishable Press, Ltd., Madison, Wisconsin, concerning publication of Reardon [Stompout] poems, collection commemorating the death of poet Robert Reardon, 10 items. Typescript [photocopy] of [six] poems included; proofs of pages 8 and 9 of the book; two proofs of poem It might as well be spring, separately printed by Hamady as a broadside, one on white paper, revised by Blackburn, the other on hand-made paper, corresponding to the first proof before revision.

Collection Historical Note

Paul Blackburn (November 24, 1926 –September 13, 1971) was an American poet. Blackburn was born in St. Albans, Vermont. Shortly after enrolling in New York University in 1945, Blackburn joined the army hoping to be sent overseas. The war ended soon after however, and he spent the rest of his service as a laboratory technician in Colorado. In 1947 he returned to NYU, transferring in 1949 to the University of Wisconsin–Madison, and graduating in 1950.

It was during these college years that Blackburn first became influenced by Ezra Pound, and began corresponding with him while at the University of Wisconsin. He hitchhiked to Washington, D.C. several times to visit him at St. Elizabeth's Hospital. Through Pound, he came into contact with Robert Creeley, which led to links with Cid Corman, Denise Levertov, Charles Olson, Joel Oppenheimer and Jonathan Williams. It was also Pound who pointed Blackburn in the direction of Provençal poetry, and he studied the languages of Provence while at the University of Wisconsin. His work on Provençal translations intensified following the 1953 publication of a slim selection of the poems from Divers Press, and the awarding the following year of a Fulbright Fellowship to study Provençal language and literature in France. He continued translating Provençal poetry for the rest of his life. It wasn’t until after his death that the work was fully published. Blackburn was also well known for his translations from Spanish of the medieval epic Poema del Mio Cid, of poetry by Federico García Lorca, Octavio Paz, and Pablo Picasso, and of the short stories of Julio Cortázar.

Blackburn played an important part in the poetry community, particularly in New York, where he helped fledgling poets develop. He provided logistical and emotional support for writers coming to the city and opportunities to read for both unknown and established writers in the various reading series with which he was involved. He organized readings that offered work from the Beats, the New York School, the Deep Image Poets, and the Black Mountain Poets. The readings he organized were the direct progenitors to the St. Mark's Poetry Project on the Bowery.

Until the mid-1960s Blackburn supported himself through various print-shop, editorial and translating jobs, including a short stint as poetry editor of The Nation. Some of his early jobs included working in-house on encyclopedias and writing free-lance reviews. He began receiving offers of teaching positions, and in 1965, 1966 and 1967 he directed workshops at the Aspen Writers' Conference. He was Poet-In-Residence at City College of New York in 1966-67. A Guggenheim Fellowship in 1967 enabled him to return to Europe to work on his translations and poetry. Upon returning to the U.S. he supported himself through reading tours and teaching at the New School and the State University of New York at Cortland.

Blackburn was married three times: to Winifred Grey McCarthy from 1954 to 1958; Sara Golden from 1963 to 1967; and Joan Diane Miller in 1968, with whom he had a son, Carlos T., in 1969. He died of esophageal cancer in Cortland, New York, September 1971. In his lifetime Blackburn published thirteen books of original poetry, as well as five major works of translation. Twelve other books were published posthumously.

Administrative Information

Repository: MS Manuscripts

Access Restrictions: Open

Use Restrictions:

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or spec@wumail.wustl.edu. (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)

Acquisition Source: Purchase

Acquisition Method:

Accession number 938.  Purchase from Henry Wenning, July 3, 1968.

Accession number 1459.  Purchase from Barry Scott, December 9,1976.

Preferred Citation: Name of the Collection, Washington University Libraries, Department of Special Collections


Box and Folder Listing


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Series 4: ArtworkAdd to your cart.
Folder 8: Drawing of Paul Blackburn by Judy Bisgyer, 1944Add to your cart.
Inscribed to N. Carr Grace. Accession 1459. (Pencil on off-white paper. 1 item)

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