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Guide to the James Boyer May Correspondence
MS 165  
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Collection Details
Table of contents What's This?
  • Descriptive Summary
  • Administrative Information
  • Biographical Note
  • Scope and Contents Note
  • Related Materials
  • Indexing Terms

  • 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


    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.


    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