Gerald Burns Manuscripts and Other Documents, 1978-1985 (MSS 0221)


Extent: 0.4 Linear feet (1 archives box)

Literary papers and artwork of Gerald Burns, "postmodern" poet, critic, artist, and editor. Included are typescripts of Burns' untitled poetry collection; galleys for Burns' critical books Toward a Phenomenology of Written Art (1979) and Prose (1982); page proofs of Robert Trammell's Epics, for which Burns set the type; and reprints of three of Burns' critical essays.

Gerald Burns was born in 1940 in Detroit, Michigan. He was educated at Harvard, Trinity College (Dublin), and taught at Southern Methodist University and New York University. In 1975 Burns moved to Dallas. In 1985, he was awarded an NEA Creative Writing Fellowship for poetry. In addition to practicing as an amateur conjurer in his spare time, Burns is an artist. He has illustrated several of his own books as well as designed many of their covers (most notably, Boccherini's Minuet and Prose).

Burns is considered a leading practitioner of long-lined, thickly-textured verse. His wide reading and close observation of a panoramic range of subjects allows his poetry to bridge formal and expressive gaps between the 19th- century Romantics, early 20th-century Modernism, and later 20th-century language-oriented writing.

The Gerald Burns Manuscripts and Other Documents contain typescripts and photocopies of poet, artist, and critic Gerald Burn's work. Also included are travel and journal writings, a review of Burns' A Book of Spells, and correspondence with poet and editor of Boxcar magazine, Leland Hickman. The collection is arranged in two series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, and 2) WRITINGS.


This series contains a letter from Scott Bowdan to Leland Hickman along with Bowdan's submission to Boxcar, "Quest/Questions." Also included are two letters from Burns to Hickman.


This series is divided into four subseries: A) Poetry, B) Prose/Literary Essays, C) Art, Travel Writing, Journals, and D) Reviews of Gerald Burns.

The Poetry subseries contains an untitled collection of Burns' poetry in two successive drafts, and a galley copy of Robert Trammell's Epics for which Burns did the typesetting "as a Christmas present to Bob."

The Prose/Literary Essays subseries contains much of Burns' critical and theoretical prose: two page proofs for Burns' Prose, as well as a galley version of his Toward a Phenomenology of Written Art, and three reprints from The Southwest Review of various literary articles.

The third subseries includes Burns' artwork and diaristic writing. His long travel narrative, "Painting Statues Books" contains the author's sketches of relevant "objets d'art" following the text. Also included is one full-sized sketch of Ezra Pound's head from the travel sketches. Finally, Burns' "My Leatherette Reminder", something of a critical/scholarly diary, is included.

The final subseries, Reviews of Gerald Burns, consists of a review of Burns' A Book of Spells by Julie Siegel as it appeared in The Southwest Review.

Container List


Box: 1 Folder: 1
Bowdan, Scott, letter to Leland Hickman and submission, "Quest/Question," to Boxcar, 1982
Box: 1 Folder: 2
Burns, Gerald, two letters to Leland Hickman - Contains photograph also used for initial cover of Prose, 1982, 1985



Box: 1 Folder: 3
Trammel, Robert, Epics, galleys - Introductory note and type setting by Burns, 1982
Box: 1 Folder: 4
Untitled collection of Burns' poems, 1984 - 1985

Two drafts exist for most of the poems. Included are "Homer and Image," "Thought and Extension," "Emerged for Immersed," "Fame in Retrospect," "Written Under German," "Imagining a World," "Concocting the Other," "Named After Days," "Orthodox in Appearance," "Waiting as Dispersion," "Good as Questionable," "Even Chisels Gold," and others.

Prose/Literary Essays

Box: 1 Folder: 5
Duration is Destination--Verse in the Eighties - Reprint from Southwest Review, Spring 1980

Essay/review of Selected Poems by Donald Justice, The Venetian Nespers by Anthony Hecht, and Greenwich Mean Time by Adrien Stoutenburg.

Box: 1 Folder: 6
Magnificence of His Rebuttles - Reprint from Southwest Review, Autum 1979

Essay/review of The American Quest for a Supreme Fiction: Whitman's Legacy in the Personal Epic by James Miller, Jr., and John Ashbery: An Introduction to the Poetry by David Shapiro.

Box: 1 Folder: 7-8
Prose galleys, 1981 - 1982
Box: 1 Folder: 9
Straddling the Brink - Reprint from Southwest Review with author's handwritten notes, Autumn 1978

Essay/article on Words for Dr. Y by Anne Sexton, Hearts of the Tattooed by Jim Hubert, and Refractions by Paul Shuttleworth.

Box: 1 Folder: 10
Toward a Phenomenology of Written Art - Paste-ups, 1979

Art, Travel Writings, Journals

Box: 1 Folder: 11
Bound typescript journal commenting on all from recent readings to philosophical speculation to dinner menus, 1982
Box: 1 Folder: 12
Paintings Statues Books, a travel journal with sketches - Typescript with photocopies of drawings, 1985
Box: 1 Folder: 13
Gaudier Brzeska--Hieratic Head of Ezra Pound - Full size photocopy of drawing contained in Paintings Sculpture Books, 1985

Reviews of Gerald Burns

Box: 1 Folder: 14
Tangible Magic From A Poet Who Cares - Tear sheet from Southwest Review. Julie Siegel's review of Burn's A Book of Spells, Summer 1980