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Armand Schwerner Papers
MSS 0485  
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Collection Details
 
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Publication Rights
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Restrictions

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Armand Schwerner Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0485
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Languages: English
    Physical Description: 32.7 Linear feet (73 archives boxes, 12 card file boxes, 2 flat boxes, and 3 oversize folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1945 - 1999
    Abstract: Papers of Armand Schwerner, poet, performance artist, musician, translator, editor and professor of literature. The papers contain correspondence, drafts of published and unpublished poetry and prose, journals, notes, translations, reviews and editorial work. Schwerner's readings and performances are represented by flyers, text, photographs, and audio and videorecordings. Also included are drafts of writings of others and subject files related his interest in Buddhism, and various biographical documents.
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, (If personal)
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, Bacchae sonnets
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, Domesday dictionary
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, Lightfall
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, Poems. Selections
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, Seaweed
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, Sounds of the River Narajana
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, Tablets
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, This practice
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand, Triumph of the will
    Creator: Schwerner, Armand

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Armand Schwerner Papers document all stages of his life and intermingled activities as a poet, playwright, translator, performer and teacher. The papers contain manuscript and typescript drafts of Schwerner's prose and poetry, including his long serial poem The Tablets, published collected poetry and unpublished poems. Many of his activities as a performance artist, both in reading his own works and in collaboration with others, are represented by texts, instructions, photographs, film, audio and videorecordings. Also included are interviews with Schwerner; articles by others about his work; correspondence with family, editors, artists and other poets including Stephen Berg, Michael Heller, Toby Olson, and George Oppen; drafts of translations; editorial work; teaching materials; conference and meeting materials; prepublication writings of other poets; and research files related to Schwerner's interest in Buddhism and Akkadian and Sumerian texts. High school and college notebooks, papers and other materials document Schwerner's educational development and academic training.
    The papers date from the late 1940s through material that was published posthumously in 1999. The papers are arranged in thirteen series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) WRITINGS BY SCHWERNER, 4) PERFORMANCES AND READINGS, 5) INTERVIEWS / CRITICISM, 6) TEACHING MATERIALS, 7) CONFERENCES AND MEETINGS, 8) WRITINGS OF OTHERS, 9) SUBJECT FILES, 10) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, 11) PHOTOGRAPHS AND FILMS, 12) RECORDINGS, and 13) ORIGINALS OF PRESERVATION PHOTOCOPIES.

    Biography

    Armand Schwerner was born on May 11, 1927, in Antwerp, Belgium. His family immigrated to the United States in the mid-1930s, and settled in New York City. He attended Cornell University, where he published his first poems in the Cornell Review. Schwerner then attended Columbia University, earning a B.A. in 1950 and a M.A. in 1964. In 1964 he began teaching English at Staten Island Community College.
    In the late 1950s, Schwerner published poems in small magazines. His first book of poetry, The Lightfall, appeared in 1963 from Jerome Rothenberg's Hawk's Well Press. During this period he also co-authored with Donald Kaplan a satiric prose book, The Doomsday Dictionary, published by Simon and Schuster in 1963.
    In the mid-1960s, Schwerner began writing a long serial poem, "The Tablets," which was framed as translations of erratic texts on clay tablets from an extinct culture in the Near East. The first publications of "The Tablets" announced that these poems were "transmitted through Armand Schwerner," who, in turn, represented himself in a fictional form in the poem as the "scholar/translator." Numbered serially, the first eight "Tablets" were published by the Cummington Press in 1968 as The Tablets I-VIII, and a subsequent volume, The Tablets I-XV, was published by Grossman in 1971. Three subsequent collections of poems gathered expanded versions of "The Tablets," which finally culminated with a posthumous edition of 27 complete tablets, accompanied with journal notes and divigations, from the National Poetry Foundation at the University of Maine in 1999. The Tablets were also used in two theatrical productions, one eponymous staging by the Living Theater in their 1989-1990 repertory and another entitled Dragon Bond Rite, in 1995.
    Schwerner's works of collected poetry also include If Personal (1968); Seaweed (1969); The Bacche Sonnets (1974); This Practice (1976); The Work, the Joy and the Triumph of the Will (1977); Sounds of the River Naranjana (1983); and Selected Shorter Poems (1999).
    Schwerner was adept as a translator, concentrating on work from Native American texts, but he also produced a translation of Philoctetes by Sophocles, as well as an incomplete version of Dante's Inferno, which he was working on at the time of his death. Schwerner read his poetry at dozens of venues throughout his career, often collaborating with other artists or providing his own musical improvisations.
    Schwerner died in February 1999.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Preferred Citation

    Armand Schwerner Papers, MSS 0485. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 1999-2014.

    Restrictions

    Original films and recordings are restricted. Researchers must request user copies be produced.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Andrews, Bruce, 1948- -- Correspondence
    Bernstein, Charles, 1950- -- Correspondence
    Blackburn, Paul -- Correspondence
    DuPlessis, Rachel Blau -- Correspondence
    Economou, George -- Correspondence
    Fraser, Kathleen, 1935- -- Correspondence
    Heller, Michael, 1937- -- Correspondence
    Joris, Pierre -- Correspondence
    Kelly, Robert, 1935- -- Correspondence
    Mac Low, Jackson -- Correspondence
    Olson, Toby -- Correspondence
    Paul, Sherman -- Correspondence
    Rothenberg, Jerome, 1931- -- Correspondence
    Schwerner, Armand -- Archives
    Tarn, Nathaniel -- Correspondence
    Wakoski, Diane -- Correspondence
    Weiss, Mark -- Correspondence
    Zweig, Ellen, 1947- -- Correspondence
    American poetry--20th century