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University Libraries - News, Events & Exhibits

James Dickey

Thomas Cooper Library (Mezzanine Gallery)
Jan 19, 2007 - Mar 15, 2007

The poet and novelist James Dickey (1923-1997) taught at the University of South Carolina from 1969 till his death, as poet-in-residence and First Carolina Distinguished Professor of English. This exhibition charts Dickey’s extraordinary and prolific writing career, from his first published poem in a college literary magazine in the 1940's through to the posthumous publication of his USC classes on poetry, which appeared from USC Press in 2004. The exhibition draws on a number of different collections, which taken together make the University of South Carolina a major resource for research on Dickey’s work. Since Thomas Cooper Library last mounted a full-scale Dickey exhibition in 1993, in celebration of Dickey’s seventieth birthday, several major acquisitions have transformed the Dickey holdings available here to students and scholars in the Department of Rare Books & Special Collections: * James Dickey’s personal library, purchased from the Dickey Estate through the cooperation of its literary representative, Prof. Matthew J. Bruccoli, and of the Dickey family: an estimated 15,000 volumes, providing evidence of Dickey’s wide-ranging literary and intellectual interests; * the Matthew J. & Arlyn Bruccoli Collection of James Dickey, donated in 2001: over 400 first and other significant editions (many inscribed), periodicals and reviews, typescripts (including an unpublished early novel), proofs, and other material, including archival records relating to Professor Bruccoli’s bibliographical and editorial work and to the several Dickey works published by the firm of Bruccoli Clark; * the Donald J. & Ellen Greiner Collection of James Dickey, donated in 2005: first and other significant editions (many inscribed, and in especially fine condition), typescripts and proofs (with a full archive for the editing of Dickey’s Classes on Modern Poetry), and additional holdings of periodicals and ephemera, particularly relating to Dickey’s years at USC. In addition, over the years, the library also acquired such significant Dickey materials as his correspondence in the 1950's with the poet and translator Ben Bellitt, and his working materials and correspondence for English verse-translations from the Russian poet Yevtushenko. Other recent acquisitions have included papers and proofs from Dickey’s editor at Scribner’s, John Hall Wheelock (purchased 2005), the literary papers of his former student and secretary Paula Goff (gift and purchase, 2000-2003), and an important group of Dickey material donated by Mrs. Judith Baughman, including materials from the research of Prof. Ronald C. Baughman. The exhibition can only include selected items from these different collections, but it should at least indicate something of Dickey’s achievement and impact and the substantive nature of the Dickey collections now at Thomas Cooper Library. The exhibition, mounted for the conference James Dickey: A Celebration of his Life and Works, opened January 19 and continues through March 15.