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David Ignatow Papers
MSS 2  
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Collection Overview
 
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Description
Papers of David Ignatow, distinguished American poet. In the 1950s and 1960s, Ignatow edited several important periodicals, among them The Beloit Poetry Journal (co-editor, 1950-1959), Nation (poetry editor, 1962-1963), Chelsea (consulting editor, 1969-1971), and the American Poetry Review (editor-at-large, 1972-1976). Ignatow taught at many colleges and universities including the New School for Social Research (1964-1965), Southampton College (1967-1968), and Columbia University (1969-1976). The accessions processed in 1987 include manuscripts and typescripts of poems dated from the 1930s to the 1970s, notebooks, and extensive correspondence. A substantial set of Ignatow's papers were processed in 1989. Almost half of these materials are general correspondence. Also included are fifteen of the poet's spiral-bound notebooks dated from 1978 to 1988; and typescripts and proof pages of three of Ignatow's more recent books, New and Collected Poems, 1970-1985, The One in the Many, and Whisper in the Dark. The accessions processed in 1993 contain a chronological collection of original manuscripts and typescripts of Ignatow's poems and prose from the early 1930s to the late 1980s, correspondence, several notebooks, a collection of essays and reviews of his work, and the writings of colleagues. The accessions processed in 1994 contain correspondence, annotated poetry drafts, short stories and articles, book production materials for Against the Evidence (1993) and Gleanings: The Uncollected Poems of the Fifties broadsides, drafts of opening remarks he gave at various ceremonies, drafts of statements he made, copies and video tapes of interviews, and some ephemera. The materials in the accession date from 1929 to 1994 with the bulk dating from the 1960s to 1980s.
Background
David Ignatow, distinguished American poet and man of letters, was born in Brooklyn, New York, 7 February 1914, and has spent most of his life in New York City. Ignatow's parents were immigrants. His mother, Yetta Reinbach, from Austria-Hungary, was the illiterate daughter of a forest warden and his father was born a Jew in the Czarist Ukraine. After graduating from high school in 1932, Ignatow was employed as a writer in research by the Federal Government. In 1937, Ignatow married the artist Rose Graubart; their son David was born that year. From 1948 to 1960, Ignatow was office manager at his father's bookbindery, and from 1963 to 1964, before establishing his literary career, he accepted various employment as a Western Union auto messenger, a hospital admitting clerk, and a paper salesman to publishers. While so employed, Ignatow published a first book of poetry, Poems (1948), and later, The Gentle Weight Lifter (1955) and Say Pardon (1961). During the 1950s and early 1960s, Ignatow began to establish his literary career in a series of editorships, the first at the fledgling Beloit Poetry Journal, which Ignatow led from midwestern obscurity to national prominence. He was associated with BPJ from 1949 to 1958, and returned to edit the William Carlos Williams memorial chapbook in 1963. His successful political poetry issue at Chelsea led to an editorship at Nation, held from 1962 to 1963. In 1955, Ignatow's son developed serious mental illness, from which he did not recover. After 1955, Ignatow describes his writing as the record of his son's illness, and of his own recovery, years later, of faith. In 1956, a daughter, Yaedi, was born to Rose and David Ignatow.
Extent
47.6 Linear feet (93 archives boxes, 4 mapcase folders)
Availability
COLLECTION STORED OFF-SITE: ALLOW ONE WEEK FOR RETRIEVAL OF MATERIALS