University of Rochester

University of Rochester Acquires Poetry Archive

July 20, 1999

The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections in the University of Rochester Libraries has acquired the archive of Paul Zimmer, a poet who directed the poetry programs at the University of Pittsburgh and University of Iowa presses since the 1960s.

This extraordinary trove, packed in 30 boxes, joins and greatly strengthens the William and Hannelore Heyen Collection of modern poetry at Rush Rhees Library. A well-known poet from Brockport, N.Y., Heyen is a longtime personal friend of Zimmer's and assisted in the acquisition. A large sheaf of letters from Heyen to Zimmer links the two collections.

The materials include Zimmer's personal and professional papers, especially as director of the two university poetry series, but also as an important practicing poet. In addition, the archive contains significant correspondence (approximately 10 or more items) with writers Marvin Bell, Hayden Carruth, Annie Dillard, John Engels, Clayton Eshelman, George Garrett, Gary Gildner, Michael Harper, Mark Harris, Samuel Hazo, Galway Kinnell, Dave Smith, W. D. Snodgrass, William Stafford, Mark Strand, May Swenson, and Michael Waters, among others. There is also correspondence with Raymond Carver, James Dickey, Ralph Ellison, Seamus Heaney, Richard Hugo, David Ignatow, Archibald MacLeish, Muriel Rukeyser, Diane Wakoski, and Richard Wilbur.

"The Paul Zimmer papers are sure to attract students, scholars, and critics doing significant work in the history and practice of modern poetry," says Peter Dzwonkoski, head of the libraries' rare books department. "Among the papers are slight, ephemeral publications of the various poet-correspondents, items that one often seeks in vain even when their existence is known."

The collected papers also contain documents such as manuscripts, proofs, off-prints, and writings that are sometimes annotated, corrected, or otherwise augmented.

Now writer-in-residence at the University of Montana, Zimmer continues to correspond with writers from his home there.