Four recent gifts have helped the Keene State College Mason Library establish a modern poetry collection that is unlike any collection in the area.
“You would have to go to a place like Dartmouth, Brown, Harvard, or Yale to see some of the things we have,” Rodney Obien, archivist and assistant professor of the Mason Library, said. “These are pretty unique materials and many state schools don’t have the opportunity or the resources to mask a collection like this.”
Valued at over $89,000, the Frank C. Shuffelton collection consisting of 2,100 volumes helped to inspire the new poetry collection.
Originally from Rochester, N.Y., the Shuffeltons, Frank and Jane, vacationed in New Hampshire, and Frank would use the Mason Library as his place to study, explained Mason Library Dean, Irene Herold.
The Shuffeltons chose the Mason Library as a place for their volumes of twentieth century United States and Canadian poetry to reside. “They’re representing the who’s who in poetry from John Ashbery to William Carlos Williams,” Obien said. “If you are studying modern poetry you would find all of the big names in that collection.”
The second gift that is displayed in the 80-linear foot collection in the Archives and Special Collections room in the library are donations from Zephyr Press, a press that specializes in poetry and translation.
According to Obien, Zephyr Press, which was formerly Aspect Magazine, has donated its most famous publication, the first complete translations of Russian poet Anna Akhmatova’s poetry. “She is sort of what Robert Frost is to us,” Obien said. “In Russia, she is one of the greatest poets in recent and modern history.”
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Obien said the KSC modern poetry collection has Zephyr Press’s archives dating back to 1989.
Another gift that helped aid the collection came from KSC English Professor William Doreski. “I call him our resident poet laureate in some ways because he is widely published,” said Obien.
Doreski has published works with the Harvard Review and was a colleague of poet Robert Lowell, Obien said.
“We have essentially his entire body of work from all his first editions of his books and all his manuscripts, and even his master’s and Ph.D. thesis and dissertation,” Obien said.
The fourth and final gift that was instrumental in establishing the collection came from the Monadnock Pastoral Poets, which consists of works from seven local poets, one being former N.H. Poet Laureate Patricia Fargnoli.
“The Monadnock Pastoral Poets have graciously agreed to donate their papers and their works to us to build this collection that focuses on poets of the Monadnock Region,” Obien said. “From what I understand there really isn’t a collection like this around.”
KSC Journalism Professor Rodger Martin, who is the founder and director of Monadnock Pastoral Poets, is in the process of donating all of his works to the collection. “Right now [the collection] has all of the poems from A to B in my file section, so any poems’ titles that begin with A or B are there,” Martin said. Once all of the poems with titles beginning with A or B are scanned and placed into the collection, Martin said he will proceed with titles C, D and E.
The Monadnock Pastoral Poets mainly donated manuscripts of poems and how those poems were developed, Martin said.
By establishing a collection like this students will be able to see how poetry is developed.
“[Students] will get to see the original manuscript of the first germination of the poem and then they will see how it has been edited and revised over the years so they will get a good sense of the writing process,” Martin said.
One donation that is currently in the making is from the Worcester Review, a literary journal, of which Martin is the managing editor. “I think eventually all copies of the Worcester Review will be there.”
Dean Herold said the modern poetry collection is open to everyone: faculty, staff, students, and community members.
Herold said she knows of faculty who are currently working collaboratively with Obien to integrate the use of poetry materials into their course work. In addition, Herold said she is trying to develop an undergraduate research fellowship for students to work with the sources in the collection.
Obien said a lot of the works in the KSC modern poetry collection are signed and autographed by their authors. “There is something unique and awesome about being able to come and see a first edition of a book,” Obien said.
In addition to the four instrumental gifts, Obien said alumni have donated to the collection as well. “It is not only for famous poets or well-known poets. It’s a repository for the works of our faculty and alumni and students so that’s the area that we are hoping to develop even further to.”
Jordan Cuddemi can be contacted at firstname.lastname@example.org.