In this exhibit 7 curators (Beaudry Allen, Michael Foight, Demian Katz, Rebecca Oviedo, Megan Piorko, Christoforos Sassaris, Mike Sgier) have identified poems from Falvey Library’s Distinctive Collections that moved them to share with others. Each curator has had “poetic license” to select and curate an individual exhibit case or shelf of poetry – and then – author a text to tell a tale about their choices. Over the coming weeks and months, be on the lookout for additional blog posts by other curators highlighting different parts of the collections. We are also digitizing additional materials to showcase all things poetic this spring of 2023, and for manuscript poetry we are focusing on transcribing already digitized texts to make them easier to read and reference.
These selections are but individual picks from a wealth of additional poetry from Distinctive Collections – much of which is available online in the Digital Library. Especially strong are the poetry collections by Irish and Irish-American authors and the poems that appear in popular cultural materials such as story papers, magazines, and newspapers. For my part, I highlighted two important parts of the collections: manuscript poetry and limited editions. Often the poetry manuscript will display signs of revision and editing especially for poems authored by the writer of the manuscript – sometimes not the same person! Manuscript poems are regularly signed or initialed by the author. As well poems of significance to an individual are sometimes copied into a commonplace book or embellished with highly ornate and decorated calligraphy, see The Hound of Heaven manuscript as one example. Some manuscripts contain both original as well as copied poems and again sometimes the text is embellished with illustrations – either drawn by the author or from another source and then glued or tipped-in as can be seen in the manuscript poems “The Lobo” and in “The Frontier School” from Horace Tussey.
I highlighted three manuscript poetry collections for this exhibit:
Manuscript poetry collection from Horace F. Tussey of Sapulpa, Oklahoma from 1910- 1920: including titled poems: The Lobo; The Frontier School; Hospitality; The Lawrence Massacre; Bob White; Autumn; The Gardener; The Humming Bird; The Frontier Garden; The Prospector’s Dream; The Rescue of Olive Oatman from the Apache Indian; The Grey Marauder; Country Dance; The Wild Turkey Pet; The Eagle; The Story of a Fierce Wolf and a Great Dog. Some poems are illustrated by Tussey.
The James Roger Personal Paper Collection, 1860-1915 contains the poetry, diaries, and accounts of James Roger (1841-1916) who was a prolific poet and diarist, and career railwayman; later in life, an immigrant to the United States, to become a gentleman farmer in rural New Hampshire. He began his 31-year career with the North British Railway Co. in 1866, ultimately serving as the Station Master at Rosslyn Castle, outside Edinburgh.
A collection of 13 notebooks filled with the manuscript writings of Annie L. Tuttle (nee Gribus), of New Haven, Connecticut dated between 1912-1920, filled with her poetry, short stories, songs, and recipes, along with a copy of sheet music for “The Quinnipiac River,” a song she composed the lyrics to, and was published in 1912. The subjects are largely domestic (nature, love, and children) but with timely references to automobiles, “aeroplanes,” and suffragettes.
The market for many poetry collections, especially for little known poets, is often small. Publishers reduce the risk of creating large numbers of un-sellable copies by producing limited editions until an author achieves market recognition warranting larger print runs. As well some well-known and established poets will be desirous of creating a more beautiful edition of a work – often these are illustrated with commissioned artwork or produced by a hand-press or both. Of note works by William Butler Yeats were printed by the Cuala Press (formerly the Dun Emer Press) in Limited editions. The Second Coming – a poem frequently cited – was published in such an edition in Michael Robartes and the dancer.
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