Harry Ransom CenterThe University of Texas at Austin

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Fall 2015 Newsletter

Recent Acquisitions

Office portrait

Katharine Graham, Carl Bernstein, Bob Woodward, Howard Simons, and Ben Bradlee discussing stories in Bradlee's office. Photo by Mark Godfrey.


A draft of Miller Williams's poem "In My 39th Year Looking Back and Forth" corrected by both Williams and John Ciardi.

Poet, translator, and editor Miller Williams (1930–2015) is known for writing poetry in plainspoken language that captured meaning in everyday experiences. The Ransom Center recently acquired his archive, which documents the career and writings of this influential American poet. As a publisher, editor, and critic, Williams mentored many rising talents, including poet Billy Collins, and his archive is filled with correspondence from such literary figures as Collins, John Ciardi, Charles Bukowski, Robert Lowell, Flannery O'Connor, and Richard Yates. Williams worked closely with former President Jimmy Carter on Carter's 1995 book Always a Reckoning and Other Poems, and thick files of correspondence and drafts related to the book can be found in the archive.

Also included are letters from former President Bill Clinton, who enlisted Williams to write and read a poem for his second inauguration in 1997. Following the inauguration, Clinton sent a letter of thanks to Williams with the handwritten postscript: "I loved the poem and so did most everyone else—you did yourself and Arkansas proud." Williams occasionally shared the stage with his daughter, singer-songwriter Lucinda Williams, reading his poems between her songs, and the title of her most recent album, Down Where the Spirit Meets the Bone, comes from her father's poem "Compassion." In his 2006 book Making a Poem: Some Thoughts about Poetry and the People Who Write It, Williams notes that a poem "must have the power to make us respond, to make us more alive." This sentiment connecting poetry to life resonates throughout his work and his archive—in the many files and drafts of his own writings, and in the work he did to publish, translate, share, and bring life to the works of others.

Other acquisitions include:

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