Guide to the James Boyer May Correspondence

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The University Library
Special Collections and Archives
University Library
University of California, Santa Cruz
Santa Cruz, California, 95064
Email: specoll@library.ucsc.edu
URL: http://library.ucsc.edu/speccoll/
© 2003
The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Guide to the James Boyer May Correspondence

Collection number: MS 165

The University Library

Special Collections and Archives

University of California, Santa Cruz

Santa Cruz, California

Contact Information:

  • Special Collections and Archives
  • University Library
  • University of California, Santa Cruz
  • Santa Cruz, California, 95064
  • Email: specoll@library.ucsc.edu
  • URL: http://library.ucsc.edu/speccoll/
Processed by:
UCSC OAC Unit
Date Completed:
December 2003
Encoded by:
UCSC OAC Unit
© 2003 The Regents of the University of California. All rights reserved.

Descriptive Summary

Title: James Boyer May correspondence,
Date (inclusive): 1956-1972
Date (bulk): (bulk 1956-1965)
Collection number: MS 165
Creator: May, James Boyer
Extent: 2 document boxes
Repository: University of California, Santa Cruz. University Library. Special Collections and Archives
Santa Cruz, California 95064
Abstract: This collection correspondence between Kenneth Patchen, Miriam Patchen and James Boyer May between 1956-1972, as well as a small collection of printed material documenting Kenneth Patchen's jazz-poetry period and his degenerating medical condition.
Physical location: Stored in Special Collections & Archives: Advance notice is required for access to the papers.
Language: English.

Administrative Information

Access

Collection open for research.

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by the creators of the records and their heirs. For permission to publish or to reproduce the material, please contact the Head of Special Collections and Archives.

Preferred Citation

James Boyer May Correspondence. MS 165. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Acquisition Information

Acquired, June 1987

Biographical Note

James Boyer May,(December 30,1904 - February 21,1981), was a minor poet, essayist and a publisher. He ran the small but influential literary magazine Trace from 1952 through 1970 in Los Angeles. Trace printed listings of small press activities connecting Alan Swallow of Denver to Len Fulton's Dustbooks in Northern California. May recollected, " Trace was called a 'Bridge' by various people - and it was - between people in many parts of the world... It's my belief, and I think it could be documented, that we had an influence on the language itself."
The friendship between May and Kenneth Patchen began with a strong review in Trace of Patchen's newly issued works Hurrah for Anything, and When We Were Here Together (1957), and continued throughout the 1960's. May appeared to Patchen as a possible source of help in his efforts to obtain financial support from the literary community. Sadly, the letters in this archive are a chronicle of his failure.

Scope and Contents Note

This archive mainly consists of outgoing and incoming correspondence between the Patchens and James Boyer May. The bulk of the letters provide a chronological commentary by Kenneth Patchen and his wife Miriam, beginning in his famous poetry-jazz period and continuing through the trauma of his medical condition. The letters are in turn hopeful, humorous, and courageous.
A small portion of the material is printed material on Kenneth Patchen; ephemera and clippings covering fundraisers, jazz-poetry and publishing activities.

Related Materials

James Boyer May/Amsberry Poetry Collection. University Archives and Special Collections, Pollak Library, California State University, Fullerton.

(The collection focuses on American small press poetry publishing from the mid-to-late Twentieth Century including Los Angeles poet and publisher James Boyer May's business archives and correspondence files)

Indexing Terms

The following terms have been used to index the description of this collection in the library's online public access catalog.

Subjects

May, James Boyer--Archive
Patchen, Kenneth--1911-1972
Authors, American--20th century
Poets, American--20th century--Correspondence
Patchen, Miriam
Patchen, Kenneth--1911-1972--Kenneth Patchen archive


Collection Contents

 

Correspondence 1956-1972 (bulk 1956-1965)

Physical Description: 2 boxes

Scope and Content Note

Consists of outgoing, and incoming correspondence;
  • There are 31 carbon copies of typed letters from May to Patchen mainly written between 1957-1965;
  • 52 letters from Kenneth Patchen to James Boyer May beginning November 1956 through 1964, comprising 20 typed letters signed (TLS), 29 annotated letters signed (ALS), and three annotated post cards singed (APCS). The bulk of the correspondence sheds personal insight on the Patchen's physical troubles;
  • 10 holograph letters, six typed letters, and seven cards from Miriam Patchen to May. Included is a 13 page carbon to an unidentified "Judith", which chronicles the medical mishaps of Patchen in great graphic detail. Many of the letters and envelopes from Miriam and Kenneth Patchen are hand decorated, presumably by Kenneth Patchen;
  • Three other incoming letters, one from William Packard informing May of Charlie Mingus benefit concert, which raised $350 for Patchen, and a forwarded copy from William L. Rothenberg, Chairman of Carnegie Fund for Authors, to William Packard notifying of Patchen's disqualification from the Fund in 1961.
Box-folder 1:1

Outgoing to Kenneth and Miriam Patchen [31 carbon copy letters, 35 pp] 1957-1965 1972

Box-folder 1:2-52, 2:1-3

Incoming: Kenneth Patchen 1956-1964 n.d.

Box-folder 1:2

Seasons' Greeting Card, "A Parable At the Year's End..." [+ env.] Dec. 27, 1964

Box-folder 1:3

ALS, "Please - the 40 dollars is not from me: " [2 pp + env.] Aug. 30, 1961

Box-folder 1:4

ALS, "No, you didn't tell us about Geraldine's bump." [2 pp + env.] Aug. 18, 1961

Box-folder 1:5

ALS, "May be duplicating what I relayed while in the hospital, by anyway -" [2 pp. + env.; decorated] Nov. 3, 1960

Box-folder 1:6

ALS, "Your good letter: thanks are badly said by couple quick questions. ", [1 pg + env.; decorated] Sep 28, 1960

Box-folder 1:7

ALS, "Most pleasant to get Geraldine's chatty and thoughtful letter - and the more appreciated..." [3 pp + env.; decorated Sep. 22, 1960

Box-folder 1:8

ALS, "How nice to think of the doves!" [4 pp + env.; decorated] Aug. 24, 1960

Box-folder 1:9

ALS, "Yesterday doctor discovered that my blood pressure is very high..." [1 pg + env.; decorated] Aug. 19, 1960

Box-folder 1:10

ALS, "Nothing new to report [letter results, that is]." [1 pg + env.; decorated] Aug. 17, 1960

Box-folder 1:11

ALS, "Very bad time these past days, too done in for anything." [1 pg + env.; decorated] Aug. 10, 1960

Box-folder 1:12

ALS, "You tell me that you did no more than anyone would do:", [2 pp + env.; decorated] Jul. 26, 1960

Box-folder 1:13

ALS, "Our 'big' address book just will not be foun d, but I've garnered a few names for you." [1 pg + env.; decorated] Jul. 10, 1960

Box-folder 1:14

ALS, "Just up to this.." [1 pg + env.] Jul. 8, 1960

Box-folder 2:1

ALS "It may happen - nothing definite as yet - that our only remaining hope, course, what -have-you, will be to bring suit against the doctors and hospital..." [4 pp + env.] May 31, 1960

Box-folder 1:15

ALS, "As you've probably guessed, things have been almost impossibly rough for us." [1 pg. + env.] May 26, 1960

Box-folder 1:16

ALS, "The past week has been so strange and depressing..." [4 pp + env.] May 11, 1960

Box-folder 1:17

TLS "Book reviewing out of my line: policy matter: so don't say no to doing something for you, only that I never do that. " [1 pg] Feb. 17, 1960

Box-folder 1:18

ALS, "What an amazing ability you have ..." [1 pg + env.] Jan. 24, 1960

Box-folder 1:19

ALS, "We both very much appreciated Geraldine's fine, long letter." [2 pp + env.] Jan. 8, 1960

Box-folder 1:20

ALS, "Forgot couple things: about my play - the planned road tour..." [1 pg. + env.] Jan. 8, 1960

Box-folder 1:21

ALS, " Many thanks for your KP items in Trace." [1 pg] Nov. 14, [1959]

Box-folder 1:22

TLS, "No, we missed the CBS program...your word of it was our first..." [1 pg] Oct. 2, [1959]

Box-folder 1:23

ALS, "Just after phone talk - the two news items, very briefly: The Troupe Theater in Palo Alto will present world premier of my 1st play, DON'T LOOK NOW, on October 9th..." [2 pp + env.] Aug. 24, 1959

Box-folder 1:24

TLS, "What with one thing and a thousand others Miriam hasn't been able to get round to answering Geraldine's letter. " [1 pg] July 1959

Box-folder 2:2

ALS "Trying to finish my book [poems and drawings] BECAUSE IT IS, which New Directions will publish in fall as a paperback..." [1 pg + env.; pink silk paper] May 6, 1959

Box-folder 1:25

ALS, "Harried as I am by trips to clinic here and to Stanford Hospital in SF for tests and x-rays for the operation, I can't remember whether I wrote to you since return from NY or not..." [1 pg + env.] Apr. 24, [1959]

Box-folder 1:26

ALS, "The Doctors conferred over me on Tuesday: report- 'a 2.5 m. leianyoms at the upper esophagus which has ... been largely a symptomatic." [1 pg + env.] Mar. 7, 1959

Box-folder 1:27

ALS, "Readings to turn away crowds everywhere - but what a beating one takes!" [1 pg + env.] Feb. 27, 1959

Box-folder 1:28

TLS, "Just too uncomfortable with stepped up traction to get round to doing much of anything." [1 pg; blue top edge, signed in red ink] Jan. 25, 1959

Box-folder 1:29

TLS, "I'm sure that the holiday period gave you little chance to work on your novel...or much else." [1 pg; blue top edge, singed in green ink] Jan. 9, 1959

Box-folder 1:30

TLS, "I've said no to Occidental College." [1 pg; blue top edge, signed in brown ink] Dec. 10, 1958

Box-folder 1:31

TLS, "Hope you are finding time and inspiration for the novel. " [1 pg; blue top edge] Nov. 25, [1958]

Box-folder 1:32

TLS "Appearance of magazine much improved. Things at lowest ebb with us." [1 pg; blue top edge, signed in blue ink] Oct. 28, 1958

Box-folder 1:33

ALS, "Yesterday Dent Hand delivered phonograph - fine to have a machine again, and such a good one!" [1 pg + env.] Oct. 16, 1958

Box-folder 1:34

TLS, "Received the section listing Grants etc...." [1 pg; blue top edge, signed in green ink, + holograph note] Sep. 9, 1958

Box-folder 1:35

TLS, "Two things. I wonder if it's convenient for you to lend me that book which has the listing of writers' grants and awards--" [1 pg + env.; blue top edge, signed in green ink, + holograph note] Aug. 27, 1958

Box-folder 1:36

TLS, "How nice of Geraldine to be phoning up an audience for the TV show." [1 pg; blue top edge, singed in black ink] Aug. 26, 1958

Box-folder 1:37

TLS, "Coat arrived in handsome neat boxshape...' [1 pg] Aug. 9, 1958

Box-folder 1:38

TLS, "Yes, played tapes. Suffer on this beat-out machine..." [1 pg; blue top edge, signed in red ink] Aug. 2, 1958

Box-folder 1:39

TLS, "Brother! since getting home it has been sixty eleven things after another, bang, bang, bang..." [1 pg; blue top edge, signed in green ink] Jul. 24, 1958

Box-folder 1:40

TLS, "I've written to the program director in Brussels telling her that I am delighted to have the invitation..." [1 pg; signed in blue ink] Jun. 29, 1958

Box-folder 1:41

TLS, "X-rays show a badly dislocated neck, and I'm in collar-brace until muscle spasm subsides enough to permit traction." [1 pg; blue top edge, signed in green ink] Jun. 22, 1958

Box-folder 1:42

TLS, "I wish I could answer your good letter with news of a better kind than prompted it." [1 pg; signed in blue ink] Jun. 4, 1958

Box-folder 1:43

ALS, "Some day, when I see you, I'll tell you the story of what these past weeks have been for us - really incredible, one blow after the other, without let up -" [1 pg] May 27, 1958

Box-folder 1:44

TLS, "Thanks for your letter and the list of names." [1 pg + env.; blue top edge, signed in red ink] Apr. 23, 1958

Box-folder 1:45

ALS, "With the opportunity to rest, I find myself tireder than I knew." [1 pg + env.] Mar. 28, 1958

Box-folder 1:46

TLS, "Thanks for your kind note of the 21st. " [1 pg] Oct. 27, 1957

Box-folder 1:47

TLS, "I would have thanked you before now for your statement about 'Hurrah for Anything' except for the intrusion of a bad experience brought on by one of the new medicines." [1 pg] May 21, 1957

Box-folder 1:48

ALS, "Thank you very much for sending me the magazine carrying your interesting article." [1 pg + envelope] Nov. 16, 1956

Box-folder 1:49

APCS, "A few more names-by the bye, I never received The International Guide" n.d.

Box-folder 1:50

ALS, "As You can guess I've hardly time to catch my breath just now!" [1 pg; a note] Oct 17

Box-folder 1:51

APCS, "My printed notice of portfolio would be appreciated." n.d.

Box-folder 1:52

Two empty envelopes Nov 18, 1958 Jul 28, 1960

Box-folder 1:51

Attachments, mailing list [holograph, 5 pp]

Box-folder 1:53-70, 2:4-9

Incoming: Miriam Patchen 1958-1972 n.d.

Box-folder 1:53

APCS, "Thank you for your message" [+ env.] Jan. 17, 1972

Box-folder 1:54

ALS, "And time goes by - Got these yesterday so this late word." Dec. 1964

Box-folder 1:55

APCS, "Your long-ago beautiful letter has been sitting among my papers for months, waiting an answer..." [+ env.] Jul. 20, 1964

Box-folder 1:56

TL, "So many thanks for your prompt and good help. I was quite desperate, as you judged." [13 pp; includes holograph post script, detailed description of Patchen's medical conditions and events] Feb. 14, 1962

Box-folder 1:57

ALS, "There is so much to say. First, however, there is the main thing: The friendship withstands any difficulties in communication." [1 pg + env; 11x 17, decorated] post-Feb 1962

Box-folder 1:58

APCS, "How cruel... to send us 'coffee munchies' Mr. and Mrs. and not join us." [Painted Poem card - "The Walker, standing" ] Dec. 30, 1961

Box-folder 1:59

APCS, "Just to say we think of you there: in your wild work period, alone with livestock etc." [Painted Poem card - "The one who comes to question himself"] Dec. 12, 1961

Box-folder 1:60

APCS, "Have a good safe trip, Boyer, comeback soon. " [Painted Poem card - "The walker, standing" ] Oct. 13, 1961

Box-folder 1:61

APCS, "Forget the Doubleday deal-their banker [called banker!] says it would be too expensive. More later" Aug. 7, 1961

Box-folder 2:4

TLS, "What a beautiful article", [1 pg + evn.; decorated] Aug. 5, 1961

Box-folder 2:5

ALS, "Seeing your here - and Alphonse, too - was as exciting and unsatisfactory as an unexpected long-distance call." [4 pp + env.; decorated] Jul. 3, 1961

Box-folder 2:6

ALS, " Geraldine's card came about two weeks ago: I'm ashamed." [3 pp + env.; decorated] May 31, 1961

Box-folder 2:7

TLS, "As usual, I am in a burning fever about something..." [1 pg + env.; decorated] Apr. 18, 1961

Box-folder 2:8

ALS, "Of course - if we were dying, we'd insist on your coming - and we'd die if you didn't" [1 pg + env.; decorated] Feb. 20, 1961

Box-folder 1:62

ALS, "Kenneth is home from the hospital with a nurse." [1 pg, 2 clippings, 1 benefit program, 1 exhibit flyer + env.] Feb. 11, 1961

Box-folder 2:9

TLS, "Kenneth will be home tonight, though we went to the hospital only Sunday..." [1 pg + env.; decorated] Jul. 15, 1959

Box-folder 1:63

TLS, "That must have seemed a stupid and distraught sort of mad call last night." [1pg] Jul. 22, 1958

Box-folder 1:64

TLS, "It was a lousy way to leave, and none felt worse about it than we. It was all wrong at that point." [1 pg] n.d.

Box-folder 1:65

ALS, "Judging from what is happening, the Bank of America can't handle a simple transfer to another of their branches - so undoubtedly will not honor our check to you -" [1 pg] n.d.

Box-folder 1:66

ALS, "How terribly good to hear from you - it's as if from another world another day." [4 pp] n.d.

Box-folder 1:67

ALS, "It's always good when a artificial push gets one into the water after that too-long-hesitation." [2 pp] n.d.

Box-folder 1:68

ALS, "How good to talk to you. I knew it would please Kenneth to break t raining and talk on the phone - to you" [2 pp] n.d.

Box-folder 1:69

PCS, signed Christmas card n.d.

Box-folder 1:70-71

Incoming: Other 1961-1962

Box-folder 1:70

Miriam Patchen to Curtis Zahn, APCS, "What's happened to your issue of Coastlines?" Jul. 28, 1962

Box-folder 1:71

William Packard to James Boyer May, [1 pg. carbon copy, signed] Jan. 4, 1961

Box-folder 1:71

William L. Rothenberg [Carnegie Fund for Authors] to William Packard [1 pg. carbon copy] May 9, 1961

 

Printed Material 1957-1961

Physical Description: 2 folders

Scope and Content Note

A collection of ephemera and newspaper clippings on Kenneth Patchen.
Box-folder 1:72

Ephemera 1958-1961

Box-folder 1:72

1. Invitation to "Paintings by Kenneth Patchen on Show at the City Lights Gallery" March-April 1965

Box-folder 1:72

2. Program to "San Francisco Tribute to Kenneth Patchen", Marines' Memorial Theater. [featured Kenneth Rexroth, James Broughton, Jonathan Williams, Herb Barman Concert Jazz Orchestra etc.] Jan. 29, 1961

Box-folder 1:72

3. Announcement, "Kenneth Patchen Reads with the Chamber Jazz Sextet [+ env] [1959]

Box-folder 1:72

4. Prospectus for "The Famous Painted Edition Patchen Books... When We Were Here Together, Hurrah for Anything, Poemscapes.."

Box-folder 1:72

5. Flyer distributed through Trace, publication headed by James Boyer May, to inform Patchen's blithe.

Box-folder 1:72

6. Typescript for a press release announcing "Poet Invited to Read at Brussels" [1 pg]

Box-folder 1:72

7. Typescript, "News flash about "poetry-jazz" sessions with Chamber Jazz Sextet..." [1 pg]

Box-folder 2:10

Newspaper clippings 1957-1961

Box-folder 2:10

1. "An Artistic Tribute To an Ailing Poet", San Francisco Examiner, (p.3) Jan 29, 1961

Box-folder 2:10

2. "Tribute-benefits set for Kenneth Patchen", Daily Palo Alto Times, (p.5) Dec. 31, 1960

Box-folder 2:10

3. "American Poems: New Recordings Reveal Poets Divided in the Nineteenth Century, Too", Thomas Lask. The New York Times, Aug. 23, 1959

Box-folder 2:10

4. "TV: Poetry Plus Jazz", Jack Gould [1958]

Box-folder 2:10

5. Comic strip "Not satisfied with reading poetry to jazz, they're now rewriting the Declaration of Independence: We dig these truths to be real frantic..." 1958

Box-folder 2:10

6. A book review for Hurrah for Anything, "A Wild World of His Own", John Holmes 1957

Box-folder 2:10

7. "Depute in Four Figures: Night Club Offers Unique Blend---Poetry and Jazz", Allan Brown. San Francisco Chronicle, (p. 14) [concert at Black Hawk] Oct. 6, 1957

Box-folder 2:10

8. "Jazzman in Rhymes", Dick Stannard. Peninsula Living, (p.10, 23) Oct. 19-20, 1957

Box-folder 2:10

9. "Bufano Offers Art Work To Help a Poet in Need"

Box-folder 2:10

10. "A Revolution in Poetry", Art Buchwarld. N.Y. Herald-Tribune 1958