Special Collections Department
Letters to Carl Thayler
Manuscript Collection Number: 184
Accessioned: Purchase, 1988.
Extent: .1 linear ft. (119 items).
Content: Letters, poems and postcards.
Access: The collection is open for research.
Processed: July 1992 by Anita A. Wellner.
Special Collections, University of Delaware Library
Newark, Delaware 19717-5267
Table of Contents
American poet and Temple University professor, Toby Olson, was born August 17, 1937, in Berwyn, Illinois. His name at birth was Merle Theodore Olson. He was educated at Occidental College, receiving a B.A. in 1965, and at Long Island University, receiving an M.A. in 1967.
He has served on the faculties of Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York (1966-1974); the Friends Seminary, New York (1974-1975); the New School for Social Research, New York (1967-1975); Aspen Writer's Workshop, Aspen, Colorado (1964-1967); and Temple University, Philadelphia (1975- ).
His writing includes books of poetry, novels, articles, reviews, and short stories. His novels include The Life of Jesus (1976), Seaview (1982), Utah (1987), and Dorit in Lebos (1990). Seaview received the PEN Faulkner Award in 1983.
Olson's books of poetry include The Hawk-Foot Poems (1968), Maps (1969), Worms Into Nails (1969), The Brand (1969), Pig's Book (1969), Vectors (1972), Fishing (1974), The Wrestlers and Other Poems (1974), City (1974), Changing Appearance: Poems 1965-1970 (1975), Home (1976), Four Poems (1976), Three and One (1976), Doctor Miriam (1977), The Florence Poems (1978), Aesthetics (1978), Birdsongs (1980), Two Standards (1982), and We Are the Fire (1984).
Born April 29, 1933, in Los Angeles, California, Carl Thayler was educated at Kenyon College, where he received his B.A. in 1968. He pursued graduate study at the University of Wisconsin from 1968-1972. While in Wisconsin he also participated in the Wisconsin Poetry-in-the-Schools program.
His writing includes several published books of poetry and a play titled "Grail." His books of poetry include The Drivers (1969), Some Ground (1970), The Mariposa Suite (1971), The Providings: Poems, 1963-1971 (1971), and Goodrich and the Haggard Ode and the Disfiguration (1972).
Sources:Evory, Ann and Linda Metzger (eds.). Contemporary Authors. New Revision Series, Volume 9. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1983. p. 382.
Evory, Ann (ed.). Contemporary Authors. First Revision, Volumes 37-40. Detroit, Michigan: Gale Research Company, 1979. p. 548.
Scope and Content Note
Seven of the letters include drafts of poems which Olson sent to Thayler for his comments. The poems include "Wood Song," "Antonio Rocca," "Brother Moon," "Gorgeous George," "Waltz," "The Contract," "Aesthetic #1," and "Aesthetic-8." Also discussed are Olson's books in progress, including his novels The Life of Jesus and Seaview. Books of poetry mentioned are Maps, Pig's Book, Worms Into Nails, The Florence Poems, Aesthetics, and Birdsongs.
In these letters Olson critiques poems written by Thayler, as well as other writing which Thayler sent to him. Thayler's Goodrich (1972), for which Olson wrote the introduction, is also discussed. Olson also comments on the work of Gilbert Sorrentino, Robert Creeley, Paul Blackburn, Avery Corman, Gregory Corso, Diane Wakoski, Denise Levertov, and others.
These letters provide insight into Olson's academic career at Long Island University, Temple University, and at the New School for Social Research in New York City. The letters also provide details of his summers at North Truro, Massachusetts, and of his interactions with various publishers about his poetry and novels.
The correspondence is arranged chronologically, with two folders of undated letters filed at the end.
F1 Letters, 1967-1969. Include one poem titled "Wood Song." 18 items (18 leaves) 20 pp. F2 Letters, 1970-1971. Includes two poems titled "The Contract" and "Waltz." 20 items (20 leaves) 24 pp. F3 Letters, 1972-1973. Includes one poem titled "Aesthetics #1." The postcard bears a poem by Karl Young titled "Ecosystems" (printed by Membrane Press). 19 items (19 leaves) 20 pp. F4 Letters, 1974-1979. Includes two poems, "Brother Moon" and "Aesthetics-8." The two postcards have printed poems on the verso. One poem is George Economou's, "The Se[er]", and the other is an untitled poem by Charles Doria (both are printed by Membrane Press). 19 items (20 leaves) 20 pp. F5 Letters, 1980-1983. 10 items (10 leaves) 10 pp. F6 Letters, [n.d.]. The postcard bears on the verso a printed poem by Rosenblum, "at sunrise (the skin)," (printed by Membrane Press). 16 items (16 leaves) 17 pp. F7 Letters, [n.d.]. Includes the poems "Antonio Rocca" and "Gorgeous George." 17 items (17 leaves) 19 pp.
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