James Tate Papers
The James Tate Papers consists almost entirely of Tate’s correspondence with Charles Simic. These letters provide an interesting insight into Tate’s writing and his ideas on contemporary poetry, and many include Tate’s opinions on and suggestion for Simic’s poetry. Some letters also contain discussions on other contemporary poets. All letters are from Tate. Other items in the collection include manuscripts by Tate: “Cruisin’ Even.” Typescript, 1 page on verso of letter to Simic, 1972: October 8. “Return to a Place Lit by a Hamburger.” Typescript, 1 page, on postcard to Simic, 1975: November 12. “A Guide to the Stone Age.” Typescript, 1 page no date. “Urgent Letter to Charles Simic Concerning the State of Poetry and the Angel of Death.” Typescript, 1 page 1970: February 27.
- Tate, James, 1943-2015 (Author, Person)
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Biographical or Historical Information
James Vincent Tate was born in Kansas City, Missouri. He received his B.A. from Kansas State University in 1965 and then went on to earn his M.F.A. from the University of Iowa in their famed Writer's Workshop.
Dudley Fitts selected Tate's first book of poems, The Lost Pilot (1967) for the Yale Series of Younger Poets while Tate was still a student at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop; Fitts praised Tate's writing for its "natural grace." Despite the early praise he received Tate alienated some of his fans in the seventies with a series of poetry collections that grew more and more strange. Tate's writing style is difficult to describe, but has been identified with the postmodernist and neo-surrealist movements. He has been known to play with phrases culled from news items, history, anecdotes, or common speech; later cutting, pasting, and assembling such divergent material into tightly woven compositions that reveal bizarre and surreal insights into the absurdity of human nature.
His awards include a National Institute of Arts and Letters Award, the Wallace Stevens Award, a Pulitzer Prize in poetry, a National Book Award, and fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation and the National Endowment for the Arts. He recently served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets.
Tate has taught creative writing at the University of California, Berkeley, Columbia University, and the University of Massachusetts, Amherst, where he was a member of the poetry faculty at the MFA Program for Poets and Writers. He died in Springfield, Massachusetts in July, 2015.
Source of Acquisition
Accession number 1695. Purchased from George R. Minkoff, Inc., August 1, 1986
- James Tate Papers
- Description rules
- Language of description
- 2020 October 27: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.
Collecting Area Details
Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
St. Louis MO 63130 US