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Bob Holman & Margery Snyder

Poem Discoveries in the Library

By February 24, 2013

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So far, 2013 seems to be a year of discovery in poetry world. Scholars digging in the archives have unearthed three new poems by famous writers in recent weeks, and we hope the trend continues throughout the year. As anyone who has assembled or published a book of poems will know, writers’ published works trail clouds of papers—notes, scribbles, drafts, revisions and letters—and there are usually treasures waiting to be discovered among the “papers of” collections that get donated to libraries and universities. Cheers for the workers who sift through the piles of paper and bring new poems to light!

from University of Illinois News Bureau:
Previously unknown Sandburg poem focuses on power of the gun,” by Dusty Rhodes
“In an apparently unpublished and previously unknown poem, Carl Sandburg addressed the topic of guns. Titled ‘A Revolver,’ the short piece was discovered last week among Sandburg’s archives, housed in the Rare Book and Manuscript Library of the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign.... by Ernie Gullerud, a retired U. of I. professor who has volunteered at the library every Thursday for more than seven years, helping to index the more than 4 tons of material that make up the Sandburg collection.”

from NBC Dallas-Fort Worth:
UTA Student Discovers Forgotten Poem by Nation’s First African-American Writer,” by Mola Lenghi
“A University of Texas at Arlington graduate student recently found a piece of American history that offers more insight on U.S. slavery. Julie McCown, a doctoral student, discovered one of the earliest poems by Jupiter Hammon.... In the newly discovered poem, Hammon shifts from the ideology he held in previous writings, in which he described slavery as the will of God, to a new line of thinking that says slavery was a manmade evil.”

from The Guardian (UK):
Winston Churchill manuscript reveals his poetic side,” by Amelia Hill
Winston Churchill was a journalist, essayist, author and novelist; a historian, biographer and renowned speaker. But now, the man praised by John F. Kennedy for having ‘mobilised the English language and sent it into battle’ has been revealed to be that most sensitive of all plants: a young poet.... Around 115 years after it was written, the only known poem written by an adult Churchill has been discovered by Roy Davids, a retired manuscript dealer from Great Haseley in Oxfordshire.”

Other recently rediscovered poems:
Found: Dorothy Parker’s “Pollyanna” (October 2009)
A trio of new poems by Langston Hughes (February 2009)
A new poem by William Shakespeare (April 2007)
A Robert Frost poem handwritten & hidden away: “War Thoughts at Home” (September 2006)
An ancient poem carved in stone (September 2006)
Rediscovered: Percy Bysshe Shelley’s Poetical Essay against war (July 2006)
A new Sappho poem comes to light (June 2005)
“And Yet”... A new Philip Larkin poem comes to light after a half century lost in the library (August 2004)

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