Texas Archival Resources Online

TABLE OF CONTENTS


Descriptive Summary

Biographical Note

Scope and Contents

Restrictions

Index Terms

Administrative Information

Description of Series

Correspondence

Poems

Short Stories

Plays

Miscellaneous Works

Published Works

Writing Career

Personal

Photographs

Despite This Flesh Correspondence

Despite This Flesh Preparation

Despite This Flesh Possibilities

Despite This Flesh Selections

Despite This Flesh Drafts

Despite This Flesh Copy-edited Draft

Despite This Flesh Galley Proof

University of Houston Libraries, Special Collections

Vassar Miller Papers



Descriptive Summary

Creator: Miller, Vassar
Title: Vassar Miller Papers
Dates: 1937-1992
Abstract: Houstonian Vassar Miller published ten volumes of poetry over the course of a literary career which spanned almost forty years, and was twice named poet laureate of Texas. The collection includes correspondence, manuscripts and typescripts of her poems, plays, and short stories, and materials pertaining to the editing and publication of the anthology Despite This Flesh.
Identification: 1987-003
Quantity: 17 boxes, 8409 leaves, 22 photographs, and 81 items; 9 linear feet
Repository: Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries

Biographical Note

Vassar Miller was born in Houston in 1924, the daughter of a prominent architect. She began writing as a child, composing on a typewriter due to the cerebral palsy which affected her speech and movement. She attended the University of Houston, receiving her B.A. and M.A. in English.

In 1956, Miller published her first volume of poetry, Adam's Footprint. Her poems, most of which dealt with either her strong religious faith or her experiences as a person with a disability, were widely praised for their rigorous formality, clarity, and emotional impact. In 1961 Miller was nominated for a Pulitzer Prize for her collection Wage War on Silence. Over the course of a literary career which spanned almost forty years, Miller published ten volumes of poetry in all. An outspoken advocate for the rights and dignity of the handicapped, Miller also edited a collection of poetry and short stories about persons with disabilities titled Despite This Flesh.

Miller received many awards and accolades for her poetry in her home state. Three of her books won the annual poetry prize of the Texas Institute of Letters. In 1982 and 1988 Miller was named Poet Laureate of Texas, and in 1997 she was named to the Texas Women's Hall of Fame by the Governor's Commission for Women.

Vassar Miller died in 1998.

Major Works:

If I Had Wheels or Love. Dallas, Tex.: Southern Methodist University Press, 1991.

(Editor). Despite This Flesh. Austin, Tex.: University of Texas Press, 1985.

Struggling to Swim on Concrete. New Orleans, La.: New Orleans Poetry Journal Press, 1984.

Selected and New Poems, 1950-1980. Austin, Tex.: Latitudes Press, 1981.

Approaching Nada. Houston, Tex.: Wings Press, 1977.

Small Change. Houston, Tex.: Wings Press, 1976.

If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough. New York: Liveright, 1974.

Onions and Roses. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1968.

My Bones Being Wiser. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1963.

Wage War on Silence. Middletown, Conn.: Wesleyan University Press, 1960.

Adam's Footprint. New Orleans, La.: New Orleans Poetry Journal, 1956.

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Scope and Contents

The Vassar Miller Papers contain material pertaining to Miller's writings, career, and personal life, and materials pertaining to the editing and publication of the anthology Despite This Flesh. Materials range in date from circa 1937 to 1992, with most of the material falling between the years 1960 to 1986.

The series relating to Miller's own work and life contain correspondence, poems, short stories, plays, miscellaneous works, drafts and typescripts of published works, and material related to Miller's writing career. The Despite This Flesh series contain correspondence, material related to the preparation of the anthology, stories and poems which were considered for possible inclusion in the anthology, and drafts and proofs of the anthology.

Noteworthy correspondents whose letters or notes may be found in the collection include Larry McMurtry, Richard Hugo, Calvin Trillin, Anne Tyler, and James Wright. A brief partial autobiography of Vassar Miller can be found in Miscellaneous Works, and typescripts of interviews done with Vassar Miller may be found in the correspondence of Karla Hammond and the correspondence of Christopher Woods.

Two chapbooks, Small Change and Approaching Nada, two literary magazines, The Touchstone and Elizabeth, and one broadside, Open Question, have been removed from the manuscript collection and cataloged.

Special Collections also holds numerous signed copies of Miller's books, and Miller's personal collection of signed books by other poets.

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Restrictions

Access Restrictions

Open for research.

Use Restrictions

Special Collections owns the physical items in our collections, but copyright normally belongs to the creator of the materials or their heirs. The researcher has full responsibility for determining copyright status, locating copyright holders, and abiding by current copyright laws when publishing or displaying copies of Special Collections material in print or electronic form. For more information, consult the appropriate librarian.

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Index Terms

Terms are either Library of Congress Subject Headings or taken from local sources.

Subjects (Persons)

Miller, Vassar
McMurtry, Larry

Subjects

People with disabilities -- Literary collections

Formats

Correspondence
Chapbooks
Photographs
Manuscripts

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Administrative Information

Preferred Citation

Vassar Miller Papers, Courtesy of Special Collections, University of Houston Libraries.

Acquisition

This collection was purchased from Vassar Miller by the UH Libraries in 1987-1988 with the support of the Rockwell Fund and the Imperial Oil Company. Maud Lipscomb donated twenty 4×5″ black and white photographic prints which she took in 1985. Jon Schultz donated a program from the memorial service for Craig Gallagher.

Processed by

Julie Grob, 1999

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Detailed Description

 
box folder
1-2 1-25, 1-27 Correspondence
Extent (870 leaves, 4 items):
This series includes correspondence from editors, fellow writers, friends, and family members of Vassar Miller, and some from Miller to her correspondents. Major correspondents are Miller's Latitudes Press editor Bob Bonazzi, her New Orleans Poetry Journal Press editor Maxine Cassin, and her interviewer Karla Hammond. Correspondence is arranged alphabetically by the last name of the sender, then each sender's correspondence is arranged chronologically. Correspondence identified by first name only, or unidentified, is filed at the end of the series.
Box Folder
1 1 Misc. A
2-3 Misc. B
4-7 Robert (Bob) Bonazzi
8 Misc. C
9-14 Maxine Cassin
15 Misc. D
16 Misc. E
17 Misc. F
18 Misc. G
19 Misc. H
20-23 Karla Hammond
24 Misc. I
25 Misc. J
Box Folder
2 1 Misc. K
2 Bruce Kellner
3 Misc. L
4-5 Misc. M
6 Vassar Miller, 1969-1986
7 Vassar Miller, 1986-undated
8 Misc. N
9 Misc. O
10 Misc. P
11 Norman Holmes Pearson
12-13 Misc. R
14-15 Misc. S
16 Misc. T
17 J.R. de la Torre Bueno
18 Misc. U
19 Misc. V
20-21 Misc. W
22 Stuart Wright
23 Misc. Y
24 Misc. Z
25-26 First Names Only
27 Unidentified

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box
3-6 Poems
Extent (2329 leaves):
Individual poems are arranged first chronologically, then alphabetically within each year. Undated poems are arranged alphabetically after the dated poems. These are followed by unpublished poetry manuscripts in chronological order, and rough drafts of poems in chronological order.
Box Folder
3 1-8 Poems, ca. 1937
9 Poems, 1960
10-14 Poems, 1961
15-16 Poems, 1962
17-30 Poems, 1963
Box Folder
4 1-4 Poems, 1964
5-8 Poems, 1965
9-12 Poems, 1966
13-18 Poems, 1967
19 Poems, 1968
20-21 Poems, 1969
22 Poems, 1970
23 Poems, 1971
24-25 Poems, 1972
26-30 Poems, 1973
Box Folder
5 1 Poems, 1974
2-3 Poems, 1975
4-8 Poems, 1976
9-11 Poems, 1977
12 Poems, 1978
13 Poems, 1979
14 Poems, 1980
15 Poems, 1983
16 Poems, 1984
17 Poems, 1985
18 Poems, 1986
19 Poems, A-D undated,
20 Poems, F-H undated,
21 Poems, I-M undated,
22 Poems, N-On Ap undated,
23 Poems, On A S-Pe undated,
24 Poems, Ph-Pr undated,
25 Poems, Pr-Rem undated,
26 Poems, Ren-Sh undated,
27 Poems, Si-So undated,
28 Poems, Sp-Thi undated,
29 Poems, Thu-We undated,
30 Poems, Wh-Y undated,
Box Folder
6 1-4 Unpublished Manuscripts, Two Worlds in One [juvenile]
5-13 Unpublished Manuscripts, Manuscript [before 1956?]
14-17 Unpublished Manuscripts, The Mind Barefoot
18 Conference Entries with Criticism, Southwest Writers' Conference, 1951
19-21 Contest Manuscript with Entry Rules, National Poetry Series 1979 Open Competition
22 Miscellaneous, 1963-undated
23 Rough Drafts, 1973-1982
24-25 Rough Drafts, 1983
26 Rough Drafts, 1984
27 Rough Drafts, 1985-1986
28-32 Rough Drafts, undated

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7 1-38 Short Stories
Extent (552 leaves):
Short stories are arranged alphabetically by title. Untitled stories and fragments are filed at the end of the series.
Box Folder
7 1-2 Autumn Come Silent
3 Crack in the Armor
4 False Spring
5 The Funeral
6 The Girl who Wouldn't Do Anything
7 The Heavenly Hearing Aid
8 The Invasion
9 Just Like Mama
10 The Lace Handkerchief
11 The Man who Got Away with Murder--Almost
12-14 Merry Christmas, Mother Milton
15 Mr. Pomfret
16-17 Miss Scaggs
18 The More Things Change
19 Nobody but Becky
20 No Twelve Year Olds
21 Pact
22-23 The Red Rooster
24 Shadow Before Me
25 The Shadows
26 Tea Party
27 Teashop Closed
28 The Terrible Music
29 A Time to Die
30 To Each his Own
31-32 To Tell the Truth
33 Tubby the Cub
34 Under the Skin
35 The Voice
36 When the Starts Begin to Fall
37-38 Untitled Miscellaneous

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box folder
8 1-21 Plays
Extent (360 leaves):
Plays are arranged alphabetically by title.
Box Folder
8 1 The Abs
2 Huck Finn
3-8 Jones Reversed
9-12 The Man Who Went Deaf
13 Peace, It's Wonderful
14-21 Who Dropped Dead? (A Non-Musical Musical)

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8 22-40 Miscellaneous Works
Extent (224 leaves, 1 item):
Miscellaneous works include essays, reviews, and unidentified creative formats. Miscellaneous works are arranged alphabetically by title, or in a few cases, by format.
Box Folder
8 22 Article on Cynthia Macdonald
23 The Artist in the Christian Community
24 Autobiography, 1979
25 Book reviews
26 The Dialogue Sermon
27 Easter and the Imagination
28 Film reviews
29-32 Jazz Mass Minus Music
33 Jazz Mass Minus Music, Some Observations On
34 A Poet's Eye View of Theology
35 Letters and Papers from Prison
36-37 [Something to Clap About: A Folk Mass]
38 The Well-Made Poem, Id or Idn?t It?
39 Why Poetry?
40 Miscellaneous

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box
9-10 Published Works
Extent (1139 leaves):
Typescripts and proofs of published works are arranged chronologically by the year of publication of the finished work. For each publication, typescripts and proofs are arranged in order of their creation. Some of the typescripts and proofs are photocopies.
Box Folder
9 1 Adam's Footprint, Page proof (photocopy)
2-3 My Bones Being Wiser, Galley proof
4-7 Onions and Roses, Typescript
8 Onions and Roses, Galley proof
9-14 If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough, Typescript
15-17 If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough, Typescript (Photocopy)
18-20 If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough, Typescript
21-22 If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough, Typescript (Photocopy)
23 If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough, Galley proof
24-25 If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough, Rough set
26-27 If I Could Sleep Deeply Enough, Repro set
Box Folder
10 1-5 Selected and New Poems (The Sun has no History), Typescript
6 Selected and New Poems (The Sun has no History), Typescript (Photocopy except for 2nd page)
7-8 Selected and New Poems (The Sun has no History), Typescript (Photocopy)
9-10 Selected and New Poems (The Sun has no History), Page proof, with corrections, (Photocopy)
11-14 Selected and New Poems, 1950-1980, Uncorrected proof copy (Photocopy)
15-19 Struggling to Swim on Concrete, Typescript
20 Struggling to Swim on Concrete, Galley proof
21 Wage War on Silence, Typescript table of contents
22 Wage War on Silence, Galley proof
23 Wage War on Silence, Galley proof

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box folder
11, Oversize 1-32 Writing Career
Extent (244 leaves, 37 items):
Material in this series includes articles about Miller, financial and legal documents, items related to special events, reviews of Miller's work, etc. Materials in this series are arranged by subject.
Box Folder
11 1-3 Articles
4-5 Bibliography
6 Book Publicity
7 Events, Annual Alumni Awards Banquet/ UH Alumni Organization, 1985
8 Events, Chamber Music of Robert Avalon, 1991
Box
Oversize Events, Chamber Music of Robert Avalon, 1991
Box Folder
11 9 Events, Houston Poetry Fest/Houston Center for the Humanities, 1985
10 Events, Texas Women's Literary Tradition: Conference and a Celebration, 1984
11 Events, A Tribute to Vassar Miller/Friends of the UH Libraries, 1983
12-13 Events, Very Special Arts Festival, 1985
14 Financial/Legal
15 Miscellaneous
16 Music: Hymns with Thomas Avinger/Alec Wyton
17 Poetry Submission Lists
18 Receptions/Readings
19-20 Reviews

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box folder
11 21-23 Personal
Extent (62 leaves, 3 items):
This series includes material relating to the churches attended by Miller, articles and other items collected as "Issues about the Handicapped", and miscellaneous personal materials.
Box Folder
11 21 Churches
22 Issues About the Handicapped
23 Miscellaneous

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box
11, Oversize Photographs
Extent (22 photographs):
Photographs are arranged in roughly chronological order.
Box Folder
11 24 Photographers: Unidentified and Maud Lipscomb 1962 and 1985,
25 Photographer: Maud Lipscomb 1985,
26 With Rev. Helen Havens, Photographer: Maud Lipscomb 1985,
27-32 Very Special Arts Festival, Photographer: Maud Lipscomb 1985,
Box
Oversize [ Photographer: James Leifeste] Ca. 1983,

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Box Folder
12 1-27 Despite This Flesh Correspondence
Extent (547 leaves, 3 items):
This series contains correspondence related to the editing and publishing of the anthology Despite This Flesh. A major correspondent is University of Texas Press editor Suzanne Comer. Letters suggesting works for inclusion in the anthology, most of them solicited, are arranged separately at the beginning of this series, ordered alphabetically by author. General correspondence concerning the anthology is also ordered alphabetically by author. At the end of this series are permissions for publication, arranged separately by the name of the author of the work for which permission is being granted.
box folder
12 1-3 Suggestions for Anthology
Box Folder
12 4 B-Co
5-8 Suzanne Comer
9 Co-Ho
10 Hu-Mc
11-17 Vassar Miller
18 N-Pr
19 Pr-Sp
20 Sp-We
21 Wi-Wr
22 No Last Name
23-27 Permissions

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box folder
13 1-16 Despite This Flesh Preparation
Extent (228 leaves, 6 items):
The material related to preparation of the anthology is arranged by subject, maintaining original order.
Box Folder
13 1 Author Addresses
2-3 Short Story Index
4 Short Story Misc
5 Fiction Catalog
6 Poetry Index
7 Grant Information
8-9 University of Texas Press
10 Choices for Anthology
11 Articles and Review
12 Old Literature of the Handicapped
13 Old Literature of the Handicapped, Wells, H.G., The Time Machine
14 Old Literature of the Handicapped, Dickens, Charles, Doctor Marigold
15 Old Literature of the Handicapped, Kipling, Rudyard, They …
16 Old Literature of the Handicapped, Tagore, Rabindranath, Vision

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box
13-14 Despite This Flesh Possibilities
Extent (523 leaves, 12 items):
The stories and poems which were labeled possibilities for the anthology are arranged with bound publications first, then single leaves. The single leaves are separated into two groupings or drafts, the second of which features line and word counts. Within each of these divisions, the bound publications or stories and poems are arranged alphabetically by author. Alphabetical order may not be exact in some sections in order to keep all of the pages in a short story together.
Box Folder
13 17 De Leeuw, David Birney
18 Fahy, Christopher
19 Hilberry, Conrad
20 Jerome, Judson
21 Prescott, Edgar
22 Rilke, Rainer Maria
23 Winner, Robert
24 Katallagete
Box Folder
14 1 Be-Do
2 Beyers, Barbara L., By the Banks of the Brazos
3 Bromfield, Louis, The Great Facade
4 Ep-Ka
5 Jacobson, Josephine, The Glen
6 Ke-Li
7 Ma-Mu
8 Ni-Po
9 Pritchett, V.S., Blind Love
10 Ro-Si
11-12 Shaw, Irwin, Whispers in Bedlam
13 St-Vl
14 Wain, John, King Caliban
15 We-Wr
16 Unidentified
17-27 Line and Word Count

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15 1-31 Despite This Flesh Selections
Extent (541 leaves, 13 items):
The stories and poems which were labeled selections for the anthology are arranged in two groupings or drafts, each of which follows the organization which was adopted for the anthology. Alphabetical order may not be exact in some sections in order to keep all of the pages in a short story together.
Box Folder
15 1 Section Introductions
2 Table of Contents
3 Yoke in his Youth
4-7 Counter, Original, Spare, Strange
8 Counter, Original, Spare, Strange: Farrington, Mark, Grandma When She Laughs
9-10 In Body, A Passenger and Rumpled
11 Beam in the Eye
12-13 Beam in the Eye: Boyle, Kay, The Crazy Hunter.
14 Beam in the Eye
15 Beam in the Eye: Wharton, Edith, The Young Gentlemen.
16-17 Beam in the Eye
18 An Unrung Bell
19 Yoke in his Youth
20 The Wrestled Angel
21 Counter, Original, Spare, Strange
22 In Body, A Passenger and Rumpled
23-24 In Body, A Passenger and Rumpled: Boyle, Kay, The Crazy Hunter
25 In Body, A Passenger and Rumpled
26 In Body, A Passenger and Rumpled: Mann, Thomas, Little Herr Friedemann
27 In Body, A Passenger and Rumpled: Wharton, Edith, The Young Gentlemen
28 Beam in the Eye
29-30 An Unrung Bell: Pritchett, V.S., Blind Love
31 An Unrung Bell

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box folder
16 1-27 Despite This Flesh Drafts
Extent (462 leaves, 2 items):
There are three unedited drafts of the anthology, each of which follows the organization of the anthology.
Box Folder
16 1 Table of Contents, Yoke in his Youth
2 The Wrestled Angel
3 In Body, A Passenger and Rumpled
4 Beam in the Eye
5-6 An Unrung Bell
7 Table of Contents, Introduction
8-9 Yoke in his Youth
10 The Wrestled Angel
11 In Body, A Passenger and Rumpled
12-14 Beam in the Eye
15-16 An Unrung Bell
17 An Unrung Bell
18 Title, Table of Contents, Introduction
19-20 Yoke in his Youth
21 The Wrestled Angel
22 In Body, A Passenger and Rumpled
23-25 Beam in the Eye
26-27 An Unrung Bell

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17 1-12 Despite This Flesh Copy-edited Draft
Extent (230 leaves):
There is one copy-edited draft, which follows the organization of the anthology.
Box Folder
17 1-11 Copyedited Draft
12 Copyedited Draft, Miscellaneous Pieces

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box folder
17 13-17 Despite This Flesh Galley Proof
Extent (98 leaves):
There is one galley proof, which follows the organization of the anthology.
Box Folder
17 13-17 Galley Proof

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