Poetry manuscripts: Two articles

Two recent articles from Alison Fraser, assistant curator of the Poetry Collection at the University of Buffalo may of interest. Both focus in part on questions of materiality — the manuscript as ‘trash’ and the clipping. The articles are:

Creating the Twentieth-Century Literary Archives: A Short History of the Poetry Collection at the University at Buffalo‘. Information & Culture Volume 55, Number 3, 2020, pp. 252-270.


This article describes the unfolding idea of the literary archival collection through the early history of the Poetry Collection at the University at Buffalo (UB). The influence of founder Charles Abbott’s innovative idea on special collections libraries, literary study and pedagogy, and book history helped to change these fields in dramatic and unforeseen ways, most provocatively by insisting that materials that were once assumed by librarians, scholars, and university administrators to be trash had the potential to be some of the most valuable artifacts for scholarly pursuit and collegiate education. The Poetry Collection was assembled from the efforts of its staff and the cooperation of its authors rather than from the tastes of an individual collector, demonstrating what it means for an institutional repository to design and compile its own collection democratically.

Mass Print, Clipping Bureaus, and the Pre-Digital Database: Reexamining Marianne Moore’s Collage Poetics through the Archives‘. Journal of Modern Literature Volume 43, Number 1, Fall 2019, pp. 19-33.


For the duration of her writing career, Marianne Moore maintained a system of clippings files inspired by early twentieth century clipping bureaus. Her files confirm scholarly observations about her proclivity for quotation and assemblage, and her devotion to unliterary, anonymous sources, but they also show an alternative to the narrative that Moore’s interest in collage stemmed from the visual arts. Moore’s clippings files and the phenomenon of clipping bureaus anticipates yet-undeveloped digital technologies and redefines the purpose and use of printed text. Moore’s clipping files are a pre-digital database searchable by metadata categories and available for micro as well as macro readings. The influence of clipping bureaus and her personal clipping files on Moore’s poetics demonstrates the profound impact of mass print on the modernists. The clippings files also show how Moore—and the American public—grappled with mass print management strategies in the early twentieth century and re-envisioned the status of the book.

The above articles are paywalled so access to the full articles will need to be via a library.

Marianne Moore and Her Circle - Libraries News Center ...

For more on the Marianne Moore Collection at Buffalo, there is also this article ‘Marianne Moore and Her Circle‘ on their Marianne Moore exhibition which was to run in conjunction with the conference, ‘Marianne Moore and the Archives’. The conference has since been postponed until 2021.