Special Collections Department
Tram Combs Correspondence
Manuscript Collection Number: 178
Accessioned: Purchase, 1987, 1988.
Extent: 275 items (.5 linear ft.)
Content: Correspondence and typescripts.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: 1991 by Anita A. Wellner.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
Combs worked for a brief period (1948-1951) as an oil chemist for Tidewater Associated Oil Company in Avon, California and later (1951-1952) managing his own Island Studios, Inc.
Beginning in 1952 Tram Combs established his book shop in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands. His book shop specializes in material related to the middle and southern Americas. This was his occupation during the span of years of the correspondence in this collection.
As a poet Combs has written a number of books of verse. Some of his published works include pilgrim's terrace: poems american west indian (1957), Saints Thomas' & Francis' cities songs o' Tram (1958), Ceremonies in Mind: artists, boys, cats, lovers, judges, priests (1959), but never mind (1961), Saint Thomas: poems (1965), and Briefs: poems (1966). His poetry was also published in issues of BIM.
Source:Kinsman, Clare D. Contemporary Authors. Volume 1316, First Revision. (Detroit: Gale 1965). Page 173.
Scope and Contents Note
Series I. Correspondence of Brinnin to Combs p.4.
Series II. Correspondence of Read to Combs p.5.
Series III. Correspondence of Collymore to Combs p.5.
Series I. Correspondence of John Malcolm Brinnin to Tram Combs. 1957-1964. Original letters and material from the poet, John Malcolm Brinnin, to Tram Combs. In addition to correspondence, the file includes an original Ts of the poem, "Skin Diving in the Virgin Islands," written by Brinnin and dedicated to Tram Combs. This poem became the title poem of Brinnin's 1970 collection of poetry. Also included are the carbons of Combs' responses to Brinnin's letters and carbons of some poems by Combs. The correspondence is based on their friendship and respect for one another's poetry. Brinnin met Combs while vacationing in Saint Thomas at his book shop. The letters reflect the development of their friendship, founded on similar views of poetry, society, and homosexuality. Brinnin discusses his poetry, other poets such as William Carlos Williams and Dylan Thomas, his efforts with biographies and poetry and the rigors of teaching in the university setting. Brinnin encourages Combs' poetry and writes the introduction to Combs' book of poetry, "Pilgrim's Terrace." The sixteen folders contain TLSs, ALSs, ACSs from Brinnin and various carbon copies of letters from Combs to Brinnin spanning the years 1957-1964. The material is arranged chronologically. 191 items. 1 F1 1957: January-June. 11 items (13 leaves) 15 pp. F2 1957: September-November. 7 items (9 leaves) 10 pp. F3 1958-1959. 16 items (17 leaves) 19 pp. F4 1960. 10 items (10 leaves) 10 pp. F5 1961: January-July. Includes Ts (carbon)s of poems by Tram Combs. 14 items (14 leaves) 15 pp. F6 1961: August-December. Includes photographs of Brinnin, Bill Read, and the Gibneys. Also includes an offprint of Brinnin's review of Combs' book of poetry, but never mind. 19 items (19 leaves) 23 pp. F7 1962: January-June. Includes clippings and a letter from Francie Brinnin (John Malcolm Brinnin's mother) to Combs. 15 items (17 leaves) 22 pp. F8 1962: July-December. 15 items (17 leaves) 22 pp. 2 F9 1963: January-March. Includes a clipping. 14 items (18 leaves) 21 pp. F10 1963: April-June. 13 items (25 leaves) 25 pp. F11 1963: July-September. 8 items (11 leaves) 11 pp. F12 1963: October-November. Includes a Ts copy of John Malcolm Brinnin's poem, "Skin Diving in the Virgins," inscribed to Combs by Brinnin. 9 items (11 leaves) 12 pp. F13 1964: January-February. Includes a letters from Bill Read and a carbon copy of poems by Combs. 9 items (14 leaves) 15 pp. F14 1964: March-May. 12 items (19 leaves) 19 pp. F15 1964: June-July. 10 items (14 leaves) 16 pp. F16 1964: August-December. 9 items (10 leaves) 11 pp. Series II. Correspondence between Bill Read and Tram Combs. As a friend and companion of John Malcolm Brinnin, Read met Tram Combs on a vacation to the Virgin Islands. Bill Read, an educator and writer, discusses a number of topics with Combs including poets, books he wishes to order from Combs' book service, his vacation in the islands, and Brinnin. F17 1957-1964. Includes ALSs and TLSs from Bill Read and carbons of Combs' letters of response. 21 items (29 leaves) 29 pp. Series III. Correspondence between Frank A. Collymore and Tram Combs. 1953-1964. Frank Collymore, a leading poet of the Caribbean Islands and editor of BIM magazine, writes to Tram Combs about various matters. Frequently the discussion is of BIM but occasionally Collymore discusses other poets, the literary culture in Barbados, and his health. Also included are carbons of Combs' letters to Collymore as well as copies of some of his poems which were submitted to BIM for publication. Occasionally the verso of Combs' carbons bear notes, advertisements, and examples of his poetry. The six folders include ALSs, TLSs, and TNSs from Collymore and carbons of letters and Ts poems from Combs. The material is arranged chronologically. 63 items. 3 F18 1953-1954. 8 items (8 leaves) 10 pp. F19 1955-1958. 10 items (10 leaves) 10 pp. F20 1959. Includes poems written by Combs. 5 items (6 leaves) 6 pp. F21 1960. Includes poems written by Combs. 13 items (13 leaves) 13 pp. F22 1961. Includes poems written by Combs. 14 items (15 leaves) 15 pp. F23 1962-1964. 13 items (13 leaves) 16 pp.
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