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Ann Grifalconi Collection of May Swenson Papers

Identifier: MS-MS-ms168

The Ann Grifalconi Collection of May Swenson Papers consists of correspondence from May Swenson and R.R. "Zan" Knudson, poetry drafts, photographs, and Swenson's portion of the 1969 film "Poetry is Alive and Well and Living in America."


  • circa 1967-1982


Conditions Governing Access


Conditions Governing Use

Users of the collection must read and agree to abide by the rules and procedures set forth in the Materials Use Policies.

Providing access to materials does not constitute permission to publish or otherwise authorize use. All publication not covered by fair use or other exceptions is restricted to those who have permission of the copyright holder, which may or may not be Washington University.

If you wish to publish or license Special Collections materials, please contact Special Collections to inquire about copyright status at (314) 935-5495 or (Publish means quotation in whole or in part in seminar or term papers, theses or dissertations, journal articles, monographs, books, digital forms, photographs, images, dramatic presentations, transcriptions, or any other form prepared for a limited or general public.)


0.50 linear feet

1 boxes

Biographical or Historical Information

Anna Thilda May "May" Swenson (May 28, 1913 – December 4, 1989) was an American poet and playwright. Born in Utah, Swenson grew up as the eldest of 10 children in a Mormon household where Swedish was spoken regularly and English was a second language. She received a B.S. from Utah State University in 1939 and taught poetry at as poet-in-residence at Bryn Mawr, the University of North Carolina, the University of California at Riverside, Purdue University and Utah State University. From 1959 to 1966, she worked as a manuscript reviewer at New Directions publishers. Swenson left New Directions Press in 1966 in an effort to focus completely on her own writing. She also served as a Chancellor of the Academy of American Poets from 1980 until her death in 1989.

Her poems were published in Antaeus, The Atlantic Monthly, Carleton Miscellany, The Nation, The New Yorker, The Paris Review, Saturday Review, Parnassus and Poetry. She received much recognition for her work, including: Guggenheim fellowship (1959), Amy Lowell Traveling Scholarship (1960), Ford Foundation grant (1964), Bollingen Prize for poetry (1981), and MacArthur Fellowship (1987).

Since her first collection of poems, Another Animal, was published by Scribner in 1954. Swenson’s other collections of poems include A Cage of Spines (1958), To Mix with Time: New and Selected Poems (1963), Half Sun Half Sleep (1967), Iconographs (1970), New & Selected Things Taking Place (1978), and In Other Words (1987). Posthumous collections of her work include The Love Poems (1991), Nature: Poems Old and New (1994), and May Out West (1996). She is also the author of three collections of poems for younger readers, including Poems to Solve (1966) and More Poems to Solve (1968); a collection of essays, The Contemporary Poet as Artist and Critic (1964); and a one-act play titled The Floor, which was produced in New York in the 1960s. As translator, she published Windows and Stones: Selected Poems of Tomas Tranströmer (1972), which received a medal of excellence from the International Poetry Forum.

Ann Grifalconi (September 22, 1929 – February 19, 2020) was an American author and illustrator of children’s books. Born in Manhattan, she studied art at the Cooper Union School of Art, where she received a certificate in advertising art in 1950. She worked for several years in advertising and display, then taught art and design at the High School of Fashion Industries before leaving to become a full-time illustrator and author.

Grifalconi often based her books on the traditions and experiences of people from different racial and ethnic backgrounds, especially Africans and African-Americans, notably, The Village of Round and Square Houses, winner of a coveted Caldecott Honor in 1987. Additonal books include Darkness and the Butterfly (1987), Osa’s Pride (1990), Flyaway Girl (1992), Kinda Blue (1993), Tiny’s Hat (1999), and The Village That Vanished (2002).

As an illustrator she has worked with authors including May Swenson, Elizabeth Bishop, Lucille Clifton, Walter Dean Myers, and Tillie S. Pine.

(Source: Wikipedia and the New York Times)

Method of Acquisition

Accession number MSS2020-004. Purchase from Lola Sandino Stanton, January 16, 2020

Ann Grifalconi Collection of May Swenson Papers
Description rules
Language of description

Collecting Area Details

Part of the Manuscripts Collecting Area

Joel Minor
Olin Library, 1 Brookings Drive
MSC 1061-141-B
St. Louis MO 63130 US
(314) 935-5495