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Leslie Scalapino Papers MSS 668
MSS 668  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Content of Collection
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Restrictions
  • Publishing Rights

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Leslie Scalapino Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 668
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    La Jolla, California 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 44.27 Linear feet 110 archives boxes and 2 oversize folders
    Date (inclusive): 1982 - 2011
    Abstract: Papers of Leslie Scalapino, Bay Area poet, scholar, experimental prose writer and founding editor of O Books, an Oakland, California publisher. The collection contains correspondence with other prominent poets and writers; typescripts of published and unpublished literary works including collaborative projects and talks given at various conferences. The papers also include production materials for books published by O Books; audio and videorecordings of spoken word events and play performances; and miscellaneous biographical material including interviews, photographs, and reading announcement flyers.
    Creator: Scalapino, Leslie

    Scope and Content of Collection

    The Leslie Scalapino Papers reflect the literary and editorial career of an editor, poet, and experimental prose writer associated with the "Language School" poetry movement. Materials include correspondence with the scholarly and poetry community; manuscript, typescript, and pre-publication materials of Scalapino's published and unpublished works, essays, plays, and talks given at various conferences; and collaborative writings. The papers also contain a selection of published work by O Books including monographs and anthologies. In addition, the materials also contain video and audiorecordings, interviews, with Scalapino reading annoucements, and book reviews. The papers are arranged in eleven series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) PUBLISHED WORKS BY LESLIE SCALAPINO, 3) PLAYS BY LESLIE SCALAPINO, 4) ESSAYS WRITTEN BY OR ABOUT LESLIE SCALAPINO, 5) COLLABORATIONS, 6) OTHER WRITINGS BY LESLIE SCALAPINO, 7) TALKS GIVEN BY LESLIE SCALAPINO, 8) O BOOKS, 9) AUDIORECORDINGS, 10) VIDEORECORDINGS, and 11) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series, arranged alphabetically, contains letters both to and from prominent poets and scholars. Notable correspondents include Charles Bernstein, Ted Berrigan, Mei-Mei Berssenbrugge, Robert Creeley, Clayton Eshleman, Lyn Hejinian, Susan Howe, Bernadette Mayer, Alice Notley, Jerome Rothenberg, Ron Silliman, and Anne Waldman. Typescript manuscript attachments of writings for individual authors are included.
    Arranged by date of publication, the PUBLISHED WORKS series consists of notebooks with handwritten drafts, typescript drafts, edited drafts, page proofs, and galley materials for twenty-three collected poetry and prose works by Leslie Scalapino from 1978-2006. This includes second edition materials for a few titles. The papers are arranged within the folders in the order of the publication production workflow.
    In addition to poetry and prose, Scalapino wrote for live theatrical performance. Any of which are published within collected works as poetry. The materials are arranged chronologically and include typescript drafts, playscripts, working scores, performance announcement programs and, photographs.
    This series includes essays written by Scalapino and critical commentaries on Scalapino's work written by others. The works, both published and unpublished, are arranged alphabetically by title.
    The COLLABORATIONS series contains typescript drafts for poetry collaborations that Scalapino authored with Lyn Hejinian, Hearing (1998) and Sight (1999); and Stone Marmalade (The Dreamed Title) (1996) with Kevin Killian.
    The OTHER WRITINGS* series is arranged in three subseries: A) Works in Progress, B) Unpublished Works, and C) Miscellaneous.
    A) Scalapino's Works in Progress, arranged alphabetically by title, are typescripts, notebooks with handwritten drafts, and notes for unfinished or in-progress poetry works.
    B) The Unpublished Works subseries contains typescript drafts including annotations of essays, fiction, and poetry.
    C) The Miscellaneous subseries contains Scalapino's notes on writing, reviews of other writers authored by Scalapino, and various untitled works.
    *Please note: Some of these materials were works in progress or unpublished at the time that they were accessioned and currently are published material.
    The TALKS series, arranged alphabetically by title, contains conference lectures given between 1992-2005. Included are typescripts and notes.
    O BOOKS specialized in innovative and contemporary poetry, prose, essays, and plays. The series is arranged in three subseries: A) Individual Published Works, B) Anthologies, and C) Unsolicited Manuscripts.
    A) In the Individual Published Works subseries are materials related to poetry published and edited by O Books including authors, Ted Berrigan, Michael Coffey, Robert Grenier, P. Inman, Michael McClure, Alice Notley, and Stephen Ratcliffe. For each title, arranged alphabetically by author, typescript drafts, page proofs, and handwritten drafts are included.
    B) The production materials for five Anthologies represent the second subseries, arranged alphabetically by title. Leslie Scalapino was the principal editor, along with Rick London for Basta Assez Enough (2003), O-One/Two (1988/1991), and War and Peace 1 and 2 (2004/2005). The materials consist of typescript drafts, page proofs, correspondence, and galley proofs.
    C) Scalapino received many Unsolicited Manuscripts from various individuals in the poetry community. These are manuscripts unpublished by O Books. The manuscripts are arranged alphabetically by author and include submissions from Alan Davies, Lyn Hejinian, and Aaron Shurin.
    The AUDIORECORDINGS series contains selected spoken word recorded readings and interviews by Leslie Scalapino and others.
    The VIDEORECORDINGS are mainly recorded performances of plays by Leslie Scalapino and spoken word readings.
    The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS series is arranged in two subseries: A) Interviews and B) Miscellaneous.
    A) The Interviews subseries features published and unpublished articles on Scalapino from 1988-2001. Notable interviews include Laura Hinton's interview with Lyn Hejinian and Leslie Scalapino conducted in 1993.
    B) The Miscellaneous materials subseries, alphabetically arranged by folder title, includes articles about Scalapino, photographs, reading announcements from 1988-2004, resumes, and the program for the 9th Annual American Book Award awarded in 1989.
    The accession processed in 2011 supplements the first accession and includes primarily correspondence, notebooks, and writings by Leslie Scalapino, as well as O Books manuscripts. The bulk of the materials date from 1989 through 2010. The papers are arranged in five series: 12) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 13) CORRESPONDENCE, 14) WRITINGS, 15) WRITINGS ABOUT LESLIE SCALAPINO and 16) O BOOKS.
    The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS series includes three subseries: A)Miscellaneous, B) Interviews and C) Notebooks. Included in this series are applications, appointment books, curriculum vitaes and materials relating to Leslie's memorial. This material ranges from 1990 through 2010.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is arranged alphabetically, and contains letters both to and from poets, scholars, editors and others. Some notable correspondents include Rae Armantrout, Charles Bernstein, Michael Cross, Alan Davies, Judith Goldman, Lyn Hejinian, Michael McClure, and Alice Notley. Also included is correspondence relating to the estate of Philip Whalen and letters of condolence to Leslie's husband Tom White regarding her passing.
    The WRITINGS series is arranged in six subseries: A) Books, B) Plays, C) Essays, D) Collaborations, E) Other Writings and F) Other Projects. Books are arranged by date of publication and consist of typescript drafts, edited drafts, page proofs, and galley materials for twenty one collected poetry and prose works by Leslie Scalapino from 1985 - 2011. Plays are arranged chronologically and include typescript drafts, playscripts, working scores, cover art and some photographs. Drafts of sixteen essays, mostly undated, are included in the Essays subseries and are arranged alphabetically by title. Leslie also collaborated with other notable poets. Five works are included in the subseries Collaborations and include works with Lyn Hejinian, E. Tracy Grinnell, Judith Goldman and Michael McClure. Other Writings include works not published as books, plays or essays, and untitled handwritten drafts and notes on index cards. Other Projects includes Scalapino's readings and literary announcements, reviews of her work and teaching materials.
    The WRITINGS ABOUT LESLIE SCALAPINO series includes other authors' writing about Scalapino or commentary about her work. Materials include writings by Patricia Pruitt, Lisa Samuels, perspectives from attendees at a workshop on Scalapino and Poetics at University of Pennsyvania, Alan Davies, Paul Vangelisti and Catherine Wagner.
    The O BOOKS Series includes materials from 1989 through 2011 and contains O Books published writings edited by Leslie Scalapino, and are arranged in three subseries: A) Office Files, B) Individual Works and C) Anthologies. Individual works, arranged in alphbetical order by author include manuscripts by Alicia Cohen, Judith Goldman, E. Tracy Grinnell, Amy Evans McClure and others. Included in the subserise Anthologies are drafts of War and Peace 3 - The Future and What is the Outside?: O/Two An Anthology and book announcement and artwork for War and Peace 4 - Vision and Text. Also included in this series are O Books grant applications, book announcements, readings, reviews and early subscription information.


    Leslie Scalapino was born in Santa Barbara, California, in 1944 to singer Dee Jessen and political science professor Robert Scalapino, founder of UC Berkeley's Institute for Asian Studies. Because of her father's academic focus in the politics of Asia, Scalapino traveled thoughout Asia, Africa, and Europe at an early age. Her later work reflects some influence from these travels including meditation on Zen writing and Tibetan philosophy. In the 1960s, she attended Reed College, graduating in 1966. Her graduate studies in writing continued at the University of California, Berkeley, where she earned a M.A. in English (1969), after which she began to focus on writing poetry.
    Scalapino's work evokes radical reaction to the human condition beyond the traditional means of expression. Her work is metaphorically often compared to Gertrude Stein and the experimental poetry associated with the Language poets.* Unbound by a single format, she published poetry, fiction, critical essays, and plays.
    Her work has been published in many poetry and academic journals since the 1970s, and she participated in numerous conferences, including the Page Mothers Conference held at UCSD in 1999, that explored innovative writing by American women. Her long poem titled Way won the Poetry Center Award, the Lawrence Lipton Prize, and the American Book Award in 1989.
    In 1986, Scalapino founded O Books, which operated out of Oakland, as a publishing outlet for younger and emerging writers, but also for prominent writers such as Alice Notley, Robert Grenier, Fanny Howe, Carla Harryman, and Tom Raworth. Her self-published works with O Books include Crowd and Not Evening or Light: A Poem (1992) and War and Peace 3 (2007) with Judith Goldman. As a press, O Books has published nearly a hundred contemporary poetry books.
    Scalapino served as a faculty member at San Francisco State University, Mills College, University of California, San Diego, the California College of the Arts in San Francisco, the San Francisco Art Institute, the Naropa Institute, and Bard College.
    Leslie Scalapino died on May 28th, 2010. A memorial was held for her on July 1st, 2010 at The Green Dragon Temple, Green Gulch Farm in San Francisco.
    *From Cohen, Alicia, "Leslie Scalapino 1947 -, " Encyclopedia of American Poetry: The Twentieth Century, 1st ed. (Chicago: Fitzroy Dearborn Publishers, 2001), 647-648.

    Preferred Citation

    Leslie Scalapino Papers, MSS 668. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.

    Acquisition Information

    Not Available


    Master audio and videocassettes and reel-to-reel recordings in Series 9 and 10 are restricted. Researchers must request a listening copy to be produced.

    Publishing Rights

    Publishing rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    Davies, Alan, 1951-
    Grenier, Robert
    Hejinian, Lyn
    Levy, Andrew, 1962-
    O Books--Archives.
    Scalapino, Leslie--Archives
    Shein, Keith
    Silliman, Ronald, 1946-
    American poetry--20th century
    Women poets, American