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Bob Perelman Papers
MSS 740  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Scope and Contents of Collection
  • Biography
  • Preferred Citation
  • Restrictions
  • Publication Rights

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Bob Perelman Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 740
    Contributing Institution: Mandeville Special Collections Library
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Language of Material: English
    Physical Description: 11.6 Linear feet (28.5 archives boxes, 1 flat box, 3 map case folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1964 - 2012
    Abstract: Papers of American poet Bob Perelman, documenting his career as a poet, professor, literary critic, and one of the founders of the Language poetry movement on the West Coast. The collection includes correspondence, manuscripts, teaching materials, conference materials, interviews, ephemera, audio recordings, notebooks, and photographs from 1964-2012.
    Creator: Perelman, Bob, (Robert Lawrence), 1947-

    Scope and Contents of Collection

    The Bob Perelman Papers document Perelman's career as a poet, professor, literary critic, and translator from 1964-2012. The collection includes correspondence and collaborative works with other prominent poets, writings and translations by Perelman, ephemera, interviews, conference and teaching materials, and photographs. The papers are arranged in the following series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) EPHEMERA, 4) CONFERENCES & READINGS, 5) TEACHING MATERIALS, 6) WRITINGS BY OTHERS, 7) WRITINGS, 8) COLLABORATIVE WORKS, 9) PHOTOGRAPHS, 10) NOTEBOOKS, and 11) APPOINTMENT & ADDRESS BOOKS.
    The BIOGRAPHICAL series contains Perelman's diplomas, information on his 2006 Pew Fellowship in the Arts, and interviews of Perelman conducted between 1983 and 2009. The interviews are arranged in chronological order.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series contains incoming correspondence received by Perelman from friends, colleagues, publishers and editors. Much of the correspondence is addressed to Francie Shaw as well as to Perelman. Notable correspondents include Rae Armantrout, Carla Harryman, Steve Benson, Lyn Hejinian, Ron Silliman, Kit Robinson, and Barrett Watten. The series is arranged alphabetically by correspondents' surnames. Unidentified correspondents are filed at the end of the series.
    The EPHEMERA series includes programs, flyers and posters promoting poetry readings, lectures, workshops and other public appearances by Perelman from 1977-2012.
    The CONFERENCES & READINGS series includes programs, posters, news clippings, and other materials regarding poetry conferences and readings in which Perelman participated between 1985 and 2010. The series is arranged chronologically.
    The TEACHING MATERIALS series contains Perelman's notes and other teaching materials from the University of Pennsylvania, the California Poets in the Schools program, and a residency in Vancouver.
    The WRITINGS BY OTHERS series consists of manuscript drafts annotated by Perelman and reviews written about Perelman and his work. The series is arranged in two subseries: A) Drafts and B) Reviews.
    A) Drafts
    The Drafts subseries contains manuscript drafts annotated by Perelman for colleagues or publishers, including the National Poetry Foundation and Cornell University Press.
    B) Reviews
    The Reviews subseries contains reviews of Perelman's work by other writers, both published reviews and unpublished drafts. Some of the reviews have been annotated by Perelman. The subseries is arranged first by author surname followed by titles of the works reviewed.
    The WRITINGS series consists of drafts of Perelman's published and unpublished writings. The series is arranged in three subseries: A) Poetry & Drama, B) Nonfiction and c) Translations.
    A) Poetry & Drama
    The Poetry & Drama subseries contains typescript drafts of Perelman's poems, books of poetry, and one play, The Alps. The series is arranged alphabetically by title. Drafts of individual poems may be found both under the title of the poem and under the title of the book in which the poem was published. Miscellaneous poems and drafts are filed at the end of the subseries.
    B) Nonfiction
    The Nonfiction subseries contains drafts, notes, and other materials regarding Perelman's nonfiction writing, including literary criticism, reviews, interviews, talks, newspaper articles, and a journal. The subseries is arranged alphabetically by title. Miscellaneous drafts and notes are filed at the end of the subseries.
    C) Translations
    The Translations subseries consists of Perelman's poetry translations from Russian, Latin, and Spanish to English. Authors include Catullus, Cesar Vallejo, Sergei Esenin, Vladimir Mayakovsky, and Nikolay Zabolotsky. Miscellaneous translations are filed at the end of the subseries.
    The COLLABORATAIVE WORKS series contains poetry and performance pieces produced by Perelman with other poets or with his wife, artist Francie Shaw. Collaborations with Shaw include "11 Romantic Positions," "Figures," "Folds," and Playing Bodies (2003). Other collaborative works include the Brat Guts Project with Steve Benson and Kit Robinson, dream poems with Lyn Hejinian, and Grand Piano, a collective autobiography by ten poets.
    The PHOTOGRAPHS series contains one folder of photographs of Bob Perelman taken between 1981 and 2012.
    The NOTEBOOKS series consists of Perelman's handwritten notebooks from 1964-1994 which contain notes, dated journal entries, and drafts of poetry and other writings. Three of the notebooks were kept by Perelman while a student at Rochester University from 1964-1965.
    The APPOINTMENT & ADDRESS BOOKS series contains Perelman's appointment books from 1990-1997 and two undated address books.


    Robert Lawrence Perelman was born on December 2, 1947 in Youngstown, Ohio to Mark and Evelyn Perelman. An aspiring musician, he studied at Interlochen and then entered the University of Rochester as a music major before transferring to the University of Michigan's classics department in 1966. In 1969, Perelman was awarded a Bachelor of Arts by the University of Michigan, followed by a Master of Arts for classical studies in 1970 and a Master of Fine Arts from the Iowa Writers' Workshop at the University of Iowa in 1972. He held various teaching positions in Iowa and New England, and was cofounder and editor of Hills magazine, which continued publication through 1983.
    Perelman married artist Francie Shaw in 1975. After traveling in Guatemala, they moved to San Francisco in 1976. Their children Max and Reuben were born in 1979 and 1983. Many of Perelman's published works, such as Playing Bodies (2003) were produced in collaboration with Shaw.
    In San Francisco, Perelman became actively involved in the Language poetry movement, working with West Coast poets Ron Silliman, Rae Armantrout, Barrett Watten, Carla Harryman, Lyn Hejinian, Kit Robinson, and Steve Benson. Perelman published several volumes of poetry and one play (The Alps, 1980) before returning to graduate school at the University of California, Berkeley. His Ph.D. dissertation, The Illegible Narratives of Modernist Genius: Pound, Zukofsky, Stein, and Joyce, was published in 1990.
    Perelman was hired by the University of Pennsylvania as assistant professor of English in 1990. He was promoted to associate professor in 1995 and professor in 2001. In addition to his poetry, he is known for his literary criticism (The Trouble with Genius, 1994, and The Marginalization of Poetry, 1996) and his translations of poetry including Catullus, Vallejo, Salamun, and modern Russian poets.

    Preferred Citation

    Bob Perelman Papers, MSS 740. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.


    Audiocassettes in boxes 11 & 24 are restricted. Researchers must request user copies be produced.

    Publication Rights

    Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.

    Subjects and Indexing Terms

    American poetry
    Language poetry
    Poets, American