[Various]: 1971-1976. The single largest known collection of correspondence by prolific American poet Frank Stanford. Comprised of 72 pages of Autograph and Typed Letters Signed, ranging in date from 1971-1976. All addressed to his long-time publisher and friend Irv Broughton, of the Mill Mountain Press, these letters provide an unprecedented look at Stanford's involvement not only in the artistic process, but in the practical business of creating material work for distribution.
Within this extensive collection are never-before-published letters exchanged between Stanford and Irv Broughton. Beginning in January of 1971, soon after the two began collaborating and in the same year as Stanford's first poetry book The Singing Knives, these letters trace Stanford's development across five years. 1971-1976 were, in fact, the most productive of Stanford's short career. Within this space, he produced uncounted pages of poetry, from which emerged The Singing Knives, Ladies from Hell, Shade, Field Talk, Arkansas Bench Stone, and Constant Stranger. Most important of all, his magnum opus The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You was being composed and revised across these years and would be released in 1977.
Stanford records the highs and lows of his work in these 72 pages with great candor. Early on, he tries to explain his methods to his new publisher, writing in one letter that "What I like to do after getting the feel of each poem, and then of the feel of the book, is to memorize some of them without writing them out" (March 4, 1971). These types of insights occur throughout, in the midst of practical correspondence about the cost of paper, the exchange of edited typescripts, the design of printed chapbooks, and the need for funding. It becomes clear often that Stanford is an artist ahead of his time. "Personally I don't think they'll risk any money on anything but a professionally controlled imagination," he writes to Broughton in August of 1974 regarding the American Film Institute. And he mentions in September of the same year his plans to submit work for the Walt Whitman Award, from which he was ultimately rejected for, ironically, being too experimental (this rejection letter is contained within the collection). Yet there were great successes for the writer during this time as well. He regularly reports "working and writing a blue streak," and he is excited in 1974 to announce that "the printing should be finished on [Ladies from Hell] by my birthday." He grows in maturity, committing to an intense revision process and refusing to publish unsatisfactory work: "They are my favorite and best and unpublished...I have to get them right' (May 25, N.Y.).
The letters also document the movement of key figures into Stanford's professional and personal life, Eudora Welty, Carson McCullers, Flannery O'Connor, and possibly most influential of all, C. D. Wright, with whom he would found Lost Road Publishers and begin a relationship. "You will one day be glad you printed CD Wright," he tells Broughton in 1975, "She's as fine as they come."
An exceptional, extensive, and revealing collection. (Item #3052)