Galway Kinnell Papers

Collection number: MC 64 [Offsite Storage]
Size: 105 (approx.) boxes (105 cu.ft.)

About Galway Kinnell

Galway Mills Kinnell was born in Providence, R.I., on Feb. 1, 1927, the son of immigrants, James Kinnell, a carpenter, from Scotland, and Elizabeth Mills Kinnell, from Ireland. He grew up in Pawtucket, R.I., one of four children. He and his family spent many enjoyable summers in Freedom, NH.

At 15 he went to Wilbraham Academy in Massachusetts (now Wilbraham & Monson Academy), after which he served two years in the U.S. Navy during WWII before entering Princeton University where he earned a BA with highest honors in 1948. His college roommate, the poet W. S. Merwin, introduced him to the work of William Butler Yeats, whose poems, along with those of Rainer Maria Rilke, exerted a lifelong influence. He earned an MA from the University of Rochester in 1949.

He began his career at the University of Chicago as a poetry instructor for correspondence students, followed by several overseas teaching jobs in France, Australia and a journalism tour in Iran that led to the writing of his only novel, Black Light. Returning to the United States, Kinnell joined the Congress of Racial Equality (CORE) in Louisiana and spent much of the 1960s involved in the Civil Rights Movement.

He subsequently served as poet-in-residence at numerous colleges and universities, including the University of California at Irvine, Columbia University, Sarah Lawrence College, and Brandeis University. He finished his teaching career at New York University, where he was the Erich Maria Remarque Professor of Creative Writing. After retiring from NYU, he lived in Sheffield, Vermont until his death.

Kinnell was married in 1965 to the Spanish translator Ines Delgado de Torres. Their two children, Fergus and Maud, were named for figures in Yeats. The couple divorced after 20 years. In 1997, Kinnell married Barbara Kammer Bristol. He died from leukemia at age eighty-seven on October 28, 2014.

Many of his life experiences found expression in his poetry. “To me,” he said, “poetry is somebody standing up, so to speak, and saying, with as little concealment as possible, what it is for him or her to be on earth at this moment.”

Kinnell was the author of ten books of poetry, a novel, a selection of interviews, and a book for children, as well as translations of works by Yves Bonnefoy, Yvan Goll, Francois Villon and Rainer Maria Rilke.

In 1982, his Selected Poems won both the Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. Additional honors received in his lifetime include the 2010 Wallace Stevens Award for proven mastery in the art of poetry by the Academy of American Poets, a MacArthur Fellowship, a National Endowment for the Arts fellowship, a Rockefeller Grant, the 2002 Frost Medal from the Poetry Society of America, the 1974 Shelley Prize from the Poetry Society of America, and the 1975 Medal of Merit from the National Institute of Arts and Letters. From 2001 to 2007 he served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.

Two days after Kinnell’s death, poet C. K. Williams described his colleague in a tribute written for the New York Times. “In public and in private, he was a singular presence, physically imposing, with the kind of efficiency and lack of excess gestures that very powerful people can have, but he was also gentle in manner, warm and solicitous, and his voice had a certain resonant kindness, with overtones of sympathy and solicitude, all of which came through not only in person but when he recited his poems to his numerous and enthusiastic audiences. He was a musical, dramatic, moving reader of his own poetry, and, when he had the chance, he liked to read aloud the poetry of others: John Clare and Keats especially, and Whitman, and once I had the pleasure of hearing him read to an audience one of my own poems, which was—there’s no other word for it—thrilling.”

About the Galway Kinnell Papers

The Dimond Library began its collection of Kinnell’s papers in 1982 with the acquisition of his correspondence with his friend and mentor, poet Charles Bell of Sante Fe, NM. Subsequent additions include correspondence with others, notebooks, and manuscripts of poems and other writings as well as video recordings of readings and programs by Kinnell. The collection is not fully processed and use is restricted.

Administrative Information

Access Restrictions

This collection is open. Permission to directly quote any materials must be obtained from the estate of the creator.

This collection is housed in the Library Storage Building; access requires 48 hours’ notice. Please contact the Special Collections staff prior to visiting the library.

Copyright Notice

Contents of this collection are governed by U.S. copyright law. For questions about publication or reproduction rights, contact Special Collections staff.

Preferred Citation

[Identification of item], [Folder number], [Box], Galway Kinnell Papers, MC 64, Milne Special Collections and Archives, University of New Hampshire Library, Durham, NH, USA.

Acquisitions Information

Multiple donations and purchases: November 1980 - October 2003 (many varied accession numbers)

Published works in the University of New Hampshire library catalog.

The Galway Kinnell Papers (1936-1980) in the Lilly Library, Indiana University, Bloomington, Indiana.

Collection Arrangement

The collection is in the original order as received by the library. A box inventory was conducted in March 2008 as several box numbers had been inadvertently skipped earlier.

Collection Contents

Box 1
Correspondence from Kinnell
Box 2-11
Correspondence to Kinnell
Box 12
Professional materials (incl. correspondence)
Box 13
Correspondence from others to others
Box 14
Mss by Kinnell: The Past; Black Light
Box 15
Mss by Kinnell: The Past; Black Light
Box 16
Misc. files: news clippings, NYU meetings, etc.
Box 16a-19
When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone (multiple drafts)
Box 20
When One Has Lived A Long Time Alone (Drafts of book-length collection send out to various others; Donald Hall, Hauden Carruth,etc.) (including The Auction and Oatmeal
Box 21
The Essential Whitman
Box 22
The Past (1984-85); correspondence with Bly, Hall, Lilach, and Charity; multiple drafts – including The Fundamental Project of Technology)
Box 23
The War; The Visit; Flies
Box 24
Imperfect Thirst, mss. The Groans; The Night; The Road Across Skye; Telephoning in Mexican Sunlight; Parkinson’s Disease; Lackawanna; The Music of Poetry; The Cellist/Solo in High Dreary; The Pen; Rapture
Box 25
Holy Shit; This War; The Man in the Chair; Hitchhiker; Showing My Father Through Freedom; My Mother’s R & R; Rapture; The Groans; The Night; The Road Across Skye; Lackawanna; Dante’s Inferno; Talk on Whitman and Dickinson, New York Public Library, 1992
Box 26
Imperfect Thirst (earlier drafts called Neverland); The Garter Snake and the Goldfinch; The Man in the Chair; Showing My Father Through Freedom; The Deconstruction of Emily Dickinson; My Mother’s R & R; Picnic; Holy Shit; Running on Silk
Box 27
Imperfect Thirst
Box 28
How The Alligator Missed Breakfast (1st written version; proofs; copies of hardcover and paperback; correspondence with publisher); Selected Poems (proofs; pasted up book; correspondence with publisher); Mortal Acts, Mortal Words (proofs); The Poems of Franco Villon (proofs)
Box 29
Prose: On Imagining the Poetry of the Future; Flower Herding on Mount Monadnock ; commencement speech at the Kent School, 1985; On Translating Poetry; Hawaii From the Air; Whitman movie; transcript of interview with “Rose”, 6/83; Life Cycle in Poems (reading with Sharon Olds); foreword to Hayden Carruth’s Selected Poems, 1987; address at the World Scholar Athlete Games, Newport, RI; presentation speech for award to Betty Kray, Dec. 9, 1985; drafts of various poems
Box 30
Three Books (galleys); various presentations or speeches
Box 31-36
Professional communications, flyers, announcements, programs
Box 37
Uncorrected proofs (?), special editions, master’s thesis
Box 38
Published works by Kinnell – special editions
Box 39-39a
Box 40
1984 Kinnell poetry calendar
Box 41-45
Audio-visual recordings
Box 46-53
Mss by others
Box 54
Published works by others
Box 55
Broadsides by others
Box 56-60
Box 62
photocopies of contributions to periodicals
Box 64
Correspondence to Kinnell
Box 65-67
Correspondence, ms (Imperfect Thirst), mss by others, flyers, etc.
Box 69
correspondences from others
Box 70
Mss by others
Box 71
Miscellaneous (largely printed materials, not drafts of poetry or prose)
Box 74
Mss by others and related correspondence; Japanese translation of Selected Poems
Box 75
Correspondence (1989-1991; 1995-1996)
Box 76-81
The Essential Rilke, mss and proofs; plus revised edition
Box 82
Correspondence, mss., (draft of speech for Maud’s wedding)
Box 83
Address to Bellarmine College, KY, 1997; correspondence, etc
Box 84
Box 85
Correspondence, mss for “early” peoms, mss for Why Regret
Box 87-89
Miscellaneous, mainly correspondence 1999-2001
Box 93
Correspondence 2002-2003
Box 94
Mss: Three Books, The Avenue Bearing the Initial, When the Towers Fell
Box 95
Mss: drafts of When the Towers Came Down; 2002 edition of Avenue Bearing the Initials of Christ; mss by others, correspondence, etc.
Box 96
Mss by others, correspondence, etc
Box 97-99
Mss and drafts for Strong is Your Hold
Box 100
Drafts for Strong in Your Hold, miscellaneous flyers, rereadings, etc
Box 101
Mss by others, correspondence
Box 102-104
Literary magazines containing Kinnell poems and interviews
Box 105
Mss and drafts for Strong is Your Hold, and correspondence
Finding Aid Image TEMP
Galway Kinnell reading at UNH, 1982


Audio Recordings
Letters & Postcards
Manuscripts & Typescripts