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Joanne Kyger Papers
MSS 0730  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Biography
  • Related Materials
  • Preferred Citation
  • Acquisition Information
  • Scope and Contents of Collection
  • Restrictions
  • Publication Rights

  • Descriptive Summary

    Title: Joanne Kyger Papers
    Identifier/Call Number: MSS 0730
    Contributing Institution: Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego
    9500 Gilman Drive
    La Jolla, California, 92093-0175
    Languages: English
    Physical Description: 22.0 Linear feet (43 archives boxes, 1 records carton, 2 shoe boxes, 2 flat boxes and 9 map case folders)
    Date (inclusive): 1950 - 2009
    Abstract: The papers of Joanne Kyger, an important member of the 'post-beat' West Coast poetry community. The papers document Kyger's life and writing as she traveled through San Francisco, Japan, New York, and Bolinas, California. The bulk of the collection covers the period from 1957 through 2007 and includes correspondence, poetry manuscripts and typescripts, ephemera, photographs, and audio recordings.
    Creator: Kyger, Joanne


    Joanne Kyger is a West Coast poet who emerged as the Beat movement was beginning to wane in the 1960s. The daughter of Jacob and Anne Kyger, she was born November 19, 1934. Her father's career as a navy officer led to a peripatetic early life: by the time she was fourteen she had lived in Vallejo, Ca. (where she was born), China, Washington, Pennsylvania, Florida, and Illinois. Her father retired in 1949, and the family settled permanently in Santa Barbara, Ca.
    Kyger attended the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1952 to 1956, where she took classes with Hugh Kenner and Paul Wienphal both of whom were important to the development of her poetry. She left the University one unit short of her degree, and the following year moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Kyger soon got a job working at Brentano's Bookstore in San Francisco's North Beach, and she usually spent her nights sharing poems with friends at poetry bars. In 1957 she met John Wieners at The Place, one of the poetry bars, and through him met Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer; it was also during this time that she first met Gary Snyder. Duncan and Spicer were the doyens of a group of poets who would gather on Sundays to read and discuss each other's work. Kyger said of those meetings: "They (Duncan and Spicer) would read what they had written, and everybody else would read what they had written. And you would be severely criticised. A lot of people would be so heavily criticised that they wouldn't come back."
    Later Kyger moved to the East West House, where such writers as Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, and Jack Kerouac were occasional residents. In 1960 she moved to Japan, where she and Snyder were married on February 23. There were two ceremonies: one by the American consul and another at the Daitoku ji monastery in Kyoto. Her life with Snyder in Kyoto and later in India is the subject of The Japan and India Journals, 1960-1964 (1981).
    Following her divorce from Snyder in 1964 Kyger returned to the Bay Area. She has said about this time, "I just took off on this big energy cruise. I had lots to say to everybody, and it wasn't like playing second fiddle anymore." The following year Donald Allen published her first book, The Tapestry and the Web (1965).
    In 1966 Kyger married the painter Jack Boyce, and together they travelled through Spain, France, Italy, and England. Upon their return Kyger and Boyce stayed briefly in New York, and then in 1967 returned to the San Francisco area where they spent the next year. In 1968 the two traveled to Bodega Bay, then to Bolinas in 1969, where Kyger has continued to live (she and Boyce separated in 1970). In the 1970s Bolinas was known for being a center for wandering poets, as well as a home for Philip Whalen, Robert Creeley, Donald Allen, Tom Clark, and others. Kyger married the artist Donald Guravich in 1978. Kyger has maintained an active presence in the community, and has been particularly concerned with environmental issues. She has also continued to travel extensively including several trips to Mexico while continuing to publish her poetry.
    Selected Bibliography: The Tapestry and the Web (1965), Joanne, Places to Go (1970), Desecheo Notebook (1971), Trip Out and Fall Back (1974), All This Every Day (1975), The Wonderful Focus of You (1980), Up My Coast, The Japan and India Journals 1960-64, Mexico Blonde (1981), Going On: Selected Poems 1958-80 (1983).

    Related Materials

    Joanne Kyger Correspondence, MSS 0008. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Preferred Citation

    Joanne Kyger Papers, MSS 0730. Special Collections & Archives, UC San Diego.

    Acquisition Information

    Acquired 2010.

    Scope and Contents of Collection

    The Joanne Kyger Papers document Kyger's career as a poet and important member of the West Coast poetry community. Materials include correspondence with prominent poets, artists, and editors; manuscript and typescript drafts of Kyger's poetry; and audio recordings of spoken word events. The papers range in date from 1950 through 2009 and are arranged in seven series: 1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) WRITINGS, 4) WRITINGS OF OTHERS, 5) OTHER PROJECTS, 6) SUBJECT FILES, and 7) IMAGES & RECORDINGS.
    The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS series contains award and grant information; newspaper clippings about Kyger's life and work; personal papers including calendars, biographies, and notes; and interviews with Kyger for various publications and projects. Materials related to Kyger's marriage to Gary Snyder are also located in the series. Materials include photographs of their wedding and reception, a photocopy of the marriage certificate, and newspaper clippings about the event.
    The CORRESPONDENCE series is comprised of letters, cards, email, and postcards from friends, family, colleagues, editors, and publishers, ranging in date from 1950 to 2008. Correspondence details Kyger's life in San Francisco, Japan, New York, and Bolinas, California, as well as her working relationships with various publishers and magazine editors. Notable correspondents include Donald Allen, Ebbe Borregaard, Joe Brainard, Robert Creeley, Nemi Frost, Gary Snyder, Anne Waldman, Lewis Warsh, and Philip Whalen. Also of interest are a small number of typescript carbons of letters written by Kyger to friends and family describing her time in Japan.
    The series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Unidentified correspondents are arranged chronologically at the end of the series.
    The WRITINGS series includes handwritten and typescript poetry and writings - completed works as well as fragments of work in progress. The series is arranged in two subseries: A) Chronological Files and B) Collaborations.
    A) The Chronological Files subseries includes handwritten and typescript manuscripts and drafts; scrapbooks of Kyger's work on school newspapers; journals and manuscripts for published works, including books where Kyger was a contributor; and, in the case of published projects, correspondence, contracts, galley copies, and page proofs. Of particular interest are the original bound journals Kyger kept in while in Japan and used to create Japan and India Journals published in 1981.
    The files, ranging in date from 1951 to 2007, are arranged chronologically and in most cases retain Kyger's original folder titles.
    B) The Collaborations subseries, arranged chronologically, contains pieces written by Kyger with friends and fellow writers. One unusual piece is a typescript on toilet paper, which Kyger wrote with Stan Persky in 1959. The piece, titled "In the Tunnel," is extremely fragile and a copy has been made for patron use.
    The WRITINGS OF OTHERS series is arranged alphabetically by author and primarily contains poetry, reviews, essays, and articles, written about Joanne Kyger and her work. In most cases, files contain typescript drafts, annotated by Kyger, along with correspondence between Kyger and the author. The series includes a 1964 article published in Kado: Japanese Floral Art, that mentions Joanne Kyger's time learning flower arranging in Japan and includes an image of her work.
    The OTHER PROJECTS series pulls together Kyger's activities outside of, but often still related to, writing. The series is arranged in three subseries: A) Readings, B) Teaching, and C) Miscellaneous Projects.
    A) Readings consists of correspondence, notes, posters, announcements, programs, and ephemera related to conferences and spoken word events Kyger participated in between 1965-2007. The folders are arranged chronologically with undated material filed at the end of the subseries.
    B) The Teaching subseries includes material related to classes and workshops taught by Kyger on writing, journaling, and poetry, from 1967-2003. Arranged chronologically, materials include class notes, correspondence, reference material, and ephemera.
    C) The Miscellaneous Projects subseries documents art, poetry, and editing projects in which Kyger participated. Editing projects include issues of the poetry journals Wild Dog and Turkey Buzzard Review, as well as local newspaper the Bolinas Hearsay News. The subseries also contains materials related to the National Center for Experiments in Television (NCET). Kyger created the video piece Descartes (1968) while working at the NCET as an artist in residence.
    The SUBJECT FILES series is arranged alphabetically by topic and primarily contains newspaper clippings and ephemera. Subjects include poets Ted Berrigan, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen, as well as the Beat Generation and Bolinas, California. Miscellaneous ephemera is filed chronologically at the end of the series. The ephemera illustrates Kyger's life and interests over the years, from peace marches in the 1960s to poetry readings by friends.
    The series is arranged in three subseries: A) Artwork, B) Photographs, and C) Audio Recordings.
    A) The Artwork subseries is comprised of drawings and sketches made by Joanne Kyger and friends. The subseries includes work by Bill Berkson, Tom Field, Nemi Frost, and Arthur Okamura, as well as collaborative drawings and sketchbooks comprised of work by several artists. One drawing of particular interest is a pen & ink drawing depicting "Blabbermouth Night" at The Place in San Francisco. The drawing has no identified artist and is located with the oversize, unidentified artwork.
    B) A small number of images make up the Photographs subseries. Images include snapshots of Joanne Kyger and other poets including Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg. Also included in the subseries are slides taken in 1972 by Roy Kiyooka labeled "A Day in Bolinas & San Fran. with Friends."
    C) Audio Recordings document spoken word events that Kyger participated in from 1966-2009. Reel-to-reel tapes, audio cassettes, and a single CD document readings that include, along with Kyger, poets Robert Duncan, Lewis MacAdams, Gary Snyder, and Bobbie Louise Hawkins.


    Original material too fragile to handle from boxes 34 & 35 has been restricted; photocopies must be used instead. Contracts containing social security numbers, located in Series 3, WRITINGS, are restricted until after Kyger's death. Also, reel-to-reel recordings in box 42 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

    Allen, Donald, 1912-2004 -- Correspondence
    Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005 -- Correspondence
    Hejinian, Lyn -- Correspondence
    Kyger, Joanne -- Archives
    Notley, Alice, 1945- -- Correspondence
    Scalapino, Leslie -- Correspondence
    Snyder, Gary, 1930- -- Correspondence
    Waldman, Anne, 1945- -- Correspondence
    Whalen, Philip -- Correspondence
    American poetry--20th century
    Women poets, American