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David Meltzer Papers

Identifier: MS-MS-ms081

The David Meltzer Papers consists of correspondence to and from Robert Hawley which provide an interesting insight into Oyez Press and its production of some of Meltzer's books as well as a number of letter to American bookseller Henry Wenning.

In addition to writing numerous collections of poetry, Meltzer has edited a number of anthologies and the significant collection of interviews including, The San Francisco Poets (1971). The book consists of interviews, poetry, and bibliographies of Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Kenneth Rexroth, Lew Welch, Michael McClure, Richard Brautigan, and William Everson. Material toward this collection, including correspondence, manuscripts, editorial material and the interview audiotapes.

Also included in the Meltzer Papers are manuscripts and editorial matter toward several of Meltzer's other publications including Yesod (1969), Letters and Numbers (1970), Luna (1970), as well as various Meltzer essays and columns for the Los Angles Free Press.

Finally, the Meltzer Papers include drafts, galleys, and other material toward Rock Tao, Meltzer's personal reflection upon rock music of the sixties. Due to the number of copyright permissions for song lyrics, Rock Tao was never published.


  • Creation: 1955-1973


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.)


7.00 boxes

Biographical Information

David Meltzer (February 17, 1937 - December 31, 2016) was an American poet and musician. One of the key poets of the Beat generation and the San Francisco Renaissance, Meltzer was also a jazz guitarist, Cabalist scholar, and the author of more than 50 books of poetry and prose.

Born in Rochester, New York, Meltzer’s family moved to Brooklyn in 1940. At the age of 11, Meltzer wrote his first poem, on the topic of the New York City subway system. He performed on radio and TV in The Horn and Hardart Children's Hour. After his parents separated, Meltzer accompanied his father to Los Angeles in 1954. In 1957, he moved to San Francisco and became part of a circle of writers based around Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan.

An integral figure in the California small press scene of the 1960's and 1970's, Meltzer has published most of his books through small presses such as City Lights, Unicorn Press, and Robert Hawley's Oyez Press. He came to prominence with the inclusion of his work in the anthology, The New American Poetry 1945-1960.

In 1958, he recorded an album of his poems with a jazz combo for Jim Dickson on Dickson's Vaja label. The album was not released until 2006 on Sierra Records titled "David Meltzer: Poet with Jazz 1958." He also taught at the New College of California in the Poetics Program, which was originally founded by Robert Duncan.

Method of Acquisition

Accession number 1121, purchase from Stonehill, 1969 December 10

Accession number 1128, gift of Henry Wenning, 1969 December 30

Accession number 1132, gift of Henry Wenning, 1970 January 19

Accession number 1164, purchase from Stonehill, 1970 March 30

Accession number 1274, purchase from Henry Wenning, 1971 May 28

Accession number 1277, gift of Henry Wenning, 1971 July 19

Accession number 1283, gift of Henry Wenning, 1971 July 23

Accession number 1296, gift of Henry Wenning, 1971 August 3

Accession number 1310, gift of Henry Wenning, 1971 October 20

Accession number 1339, gift of Henry Wenning, 1972 March 3

Accession number 1341, gift of David Meltzer via Henry Wenning, 1979 March 17

Accession number 1390, transfer from Modern Literature Collection, 1973 March 21

Accession number 2012.033, purchase from Joseph the Provider, 2012 December 13

David Meltzer Papers
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Language of description

Revision Statements

  • 2021 April 9: Resource record updated in ArchiveSpace by Sarah Schnuriger.

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