Martha Ronk Papers, 1983-2008 (MSS 0697)

Extent: 4.6 Linear feet (9 archives boxes and 11 oversize folders)

Papers of Martha Ronk, fiction writer, editor, and American poet. The papers primarily document Ronk's literary correspondence, poetry manuscripts, and editorial projects from the mid-1980s to 2008. The bulk of the collection is made up of Ronk's poetry manuscripts and typescript drafts from her published poetry collections, including State of Mind (1995), Displeasures of the Table: Memoir as Caricature (2001), and Why/Why Not (2003). Also included are numerous typescript drafts of individual poems by Ronk, correspondence with other writers and poets, and editorial work for Littoral Books and The New Review of Literature.

Martha Clare Ronk was born on February 19, 1940, in Cleveland, Ohio. She received her B.A. in English from Wellesley College in 1962, and her PhD from Yale University in 1968. Her dissertation entitled "The Theme of Creation in 'Paradise Lost'" was completed under the direction of Louis L. Martz. From 1967 through 1971 Ronk taught at Tufts University as an assistant professor. In 1971 she moved to Los Angeles, where she did her post-doctoral studies at the School of Criticism and Theory at the University of California, Irvine, in the summer of 1976. In 1980 Ronk took a position at Occidental College as a professor of English and Comparative Studies; she received the Graham L. Sterling Faculty Award for Excellence from Occidental College in 1990.

In 1990 Ronk, along with Los Angeles writers Paul Vangelisti and Dennis Phillips, created Littoral Books, a co-operative publishing venture in Los Angeles. Littoral Books published both poetry and prose mainly for authors in Southern California, including numerous well-known poets such as George Albon, Norma Cole, and Stephen Ratcliffe. Early publications from Littoral Books were printed with help from Sun & Moon Press. Ronk became co-editor of the journal The New Review of Literature with Paul Vangelisti and Dennis Phillips in 2002. This journal was a product of the Graduate Writing Program of Otis College of Art and Design. Each issue included poetry, essays, reviews and criticism of modern literature. The New Review of Literature ceased publication in 2008 after its tenth issue, and was replaced in February 2009 by OR: A Literary Tabloid.

Ronk has published over ten books of poetry. Her first book, Desire in LA, was published in 1990 by the University of Georgia Press. Since then, Ronk has written numerous other books of collected poems, including Desert Geometries: Poems (1992), State of Mind (1995), and Eyetrouble (1998). Her most current publication, Glass Grapes: Stories, is a series of short stories published by BOA Editions Ltd. in 2008.

In 2005 Ronk was awarded the PEN USA award for poetry for her book In a Landscape of Having to Repeat. In 2006 her book Vertigo: Poems won the National Poetry Series award and a 2007 National Endowment of the Arts Fellowship. Ronk is currently the Irma and Jay Price Professor of English and Comparative Studies at Occidental College. Her instruction focuses on Renaissance studies, as well as poetry and fiction writing.

The Martha Ronk Papers contain materials documenting her activities as a poet, publisher, editor, and fiction writer, and features manuscripts of poetry and prose which date from 1983 through 2008. The papers also include editorial materials related to both Littoral Books and the journal The New Review of Literature, poetry workshops, poetry reading materials, articles, and art reviews. The majority of the collection is made up of typescript drafts from Ronk's collected poetry, which contain handwritten notes and revisions from Ronk and her publishers. The collection also contains general correspondence between Ronk and other poets, book publishers, and literary editors. Arranged into six series: 1) CORRESPONDENCE, 2) WRITINGS BY RONK, 3) EDITORIAL PROJECTS, 4) CRITICISMS AND REVIEWS, 5) READINGS AND WORKSHOPS, and 6) MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS.


The CORRESPONDENCE series contains letters from Paul Vangelisti, George Albon, Lee Hickman, Dave Smith, Bin Ramke, and other writers and poetry editors. The majority of the correspondence deals with Ronk's writing, including acceptance and rejection letters from publishers regarding collected and uncollected poetry and prose. This series also contains a small amount of personal correspondence between Ronk and other writers whom she befriended as an editor of Littoral Book and The New Review of Literature. This series is arranged in alphabetical order by correspondent.


The WRITINGS BY RONK series is the largest series in the collection and is arranged in four subseries: A) Articles and Reviews, B) Unpublished Work, C) Uncollected Published Poetry, and D) Collected Published Poetry.

A) The Articles and Reviews subseries contains articles and drafts, both published and unpublished, written by Ronk. This subseries also contains art reviews written by Ronk for the journal Artweek in 1989 and 1990. Materials in this subseries are arranged in alphabetical order.

B) The Unpublished Work subseries includes typescript drafts of collected and uncollected poems written by Ronk. These unpublished manuscripts include work entitled: "Lost", "Letters from Hong Kong", and "Elegies, Alibis, and Spring."

C) The Uncollected Published Poetry subseries contains individual poems written by Ronk that were published in various poetry and literary magazines, including Hambone, The American Poetry Review, HOW(ever), and Talisman. Materials in this subseries are arranged in alphabetical order by the name of the journal or publication.

D) The fourth subseries, Collected Published Poetry, contains correspondence, typescript drafts, galley proofs and final drafts of fourteen of Ronk's published poetry books. These books include typescripts by Ronk, as well as collaborative projects Ronk worked on with other authors or artists. One of these collaborations is the book Life in L.A., written by Ronk and other poets in 1983. This publication was printed on oversize paper and published by Paradise Press. The typescript drafts in this series contain handwritten notes by Ronk that show the evolution of the poems and document the publication process of each poetry manuscript. This subseries also contains criticism and reviews of some of Ronk's published poetry that appeared in literary magazines and other publications, such as the LA Times Book Review. Items in this final subseries are arranged in chronological order.


The third series in this collection, EDITORIAL PROJECTS, contains material from both Littoral Books and The New Review of Literature journal. Both editorial projects contain correspondence, manuscript submissions, and contact information for contributors from both publications. The papers pertaining to Littoral Books contains a galley proof for the cover of Empire Life by George Albon.These materials also include reading announcements and flyers from local poets that were sponsored by Littoral Books; these flyers include an announcement for "A Futurist Dinner," which was the first fundraiser dinner put together for Littoral Books by Ronk, Phillips, and Vangelisti.


The CRITICISMS AND REVIEWS series contains published and unpublished reviews of Ronk's work on collaborative projects, as well as her work as a whole. This series also contains commentary regarding Ronk's influence on the Southern California poetry scene over the past twenty years.


The READINGS AND WORKSHOPS series contains materials from various poetry workshops and conferences in which Ronk participated, including the Page Mother's Conference at UCSD, the Place as Purpose Conference, and the Poetics of Memory Conference. The materials from these conferences include correspondence, conference notes and outlines, and panelist writings and submissions. This series also contains flyers and pamphlets for various poetry readings in which Ronk performed. These readings sometimes included other poets from the Los Angeles area. Materials in this series are arranged in alphabetical order.


The final series in the collection, MISCELLANEOUS MATERIALS, includes a small amount of teaching material from Occidental College and two articles about Ronk; one mentioning her involvement at a poetry conference, and a second highlighting her achievement in being awarded the Graham L. Sterling Award for Excellence at Occidental College.

Container List


Box: 1 Folder: 1
A - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 2
Albon, George, 1998
Box: 1 Folder: 3
Antioch Review, 1993
Box: 1 Folder: 4
L'Art Pour L'Art, 1989-1997
Box: 1 Folder: 5
B - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 6
Bennett, Guy, 1998
Box: 1 Folder: 7
Bennington Writing Workshops, 1990
Box: 1 Folder: 8
Brink, Leonard, 1997-1998
Box: 1 Folder: 9
C - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 10
Chicago Review, 1997-1999
Box: 1 Folder: 11
Colorado Review, 1995-1998
Box: 1 Folder: 12
Conjunctions, 1996
Box: 1 Folder: 13
Corbett, Bill, 1996-1997
Box: 1 Folder: 14
D - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 15
DiPalma, Ray, 1996-1998
Box: 1 Folder: 16
Dorland Mountain Arts Colony, 1995
Box: 1 Folder: 17
Ela, Patrick and Shelley Whitaker, 1999
Box: 1 Folder: 18
Eshleman, Clayton, 1989-1992
Box: 1 Folder: 19
F - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 20
Foster, Ed, 1991-1998
Box: 1 Folder: 21
G - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 22
Guest, Barbara, 1994-1998
Box: 1 Folder: 23
H - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 24
Hambone, 1990-1997
Box: 1 Folder: 25
Harvard Review, 1997-2000
Box: 1 Folder: 26
Hickman, Lee, 1988
Box: 1 Folder: 27
Hudson Review, 1985
Box: 1 Folder: 28
K - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 29
Keelan, Claudia, 1998
Box: 1 Folder: 30
LA Weekly, 1998
Box: 1 Folder: 31
Lowther, John
Box: 1 Folder: 32
M - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 33
McCollough, Aaron, 2002-2004
Box: 1 Folder: 34
N - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 35
National Poetry Series, 1992-1998
Box: 1 Folder: 36
Novak, Estelle Gershgoren, 1998
Box: 1 Folder: 37
O - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 38
O'Brien, John, 2004
Box: 1 Folder: 39
Occidental College, 1998
Box: 1 Folder: 40
P - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 41
Ploughshares, 1990
Box: 1 Folder: 42
Princeton University Press
Box: 1 Folder: 43
R - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 44
Ramke, Bin, 1987-1992
Box: 1 Folder: 45
Ratcliffe, Stephen, 1997
Box: 1 Folder: 46
Revell, Donald, 2001
Box: 1 Folder: 47
Rhizome, 1996-2001
Box: 1 Folder: 48
S - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 49
Salerno, Mark, 1996-1998
Box: 1 Folder: 50
Sandy, Stephen, 1991
Box: 1 Folder: 51
Smith, Dave, 1984-2001
Box: 1 Folder: 52
Solano, Louisa, 1996-1998
Box: 1 Folder: 53
Southern Review, 1990-1999
Box: 1 Folder: 54
Sun & Moon Press, 1997
Box: 1 Folder: 55
U - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 56
University of Georgia Press, 1988-1997
Box: 1 Folder: 57
University of Iowa Press, 1992-2000
Box: 1 Folder: 58
University of Pittsburgh Press, 1990
Box: 1 Folder: 59
Vangelisti, Paul, 1999
Box: 1 Folder: 60
Vogelsang, Arthur, 1986-1987
Box: 1 Folder: 61
W - Miscellaneous
Box: 1 Folder: 62
Wesleyan University Press, 1985-1997
Box: 1 Folder: 63
Wolverton, Terry, 2000
Box: 1 Folder: 64
Y - Miscellaneous


Articles and Reviews

Box: 2 Folder: 1
"Coping with change: Sign language at the Southwest Museum," Artweek- Typescript draft and copy of published review
Box: 2 Folder: 2 Oversize: FB-482-01
"Fooling with mother nature: John Divola at Jan Kesner Gallery," Artweek - Typescript, notes and final draft, February 1, 1990
Box: 2 Folder: 3 Oversize: FB-482-02
"Images etched in stone," Artweek - Typescript draft and notes, November 4, 1989
Box: 2 Folder: 4
"More than urban" - Photocopy of article written for Occidental College by Martha Ronk, Mark McCloskey and David James
Box: 2 Folder: 5
"Review of On a Stair by Ann Lauterbach" - Typescript draft of poetry review
Box: 2 Folder: 6 Oversize: FB-482-03
"The sky as landscape," Artweek - Typescript drafts, notes, and final draft, July 15, 1989
Box: 2 Folder: 7
"Susan Rankkaitis: Meyers/Bloom Gallery," Artweek - Typescript drafts and notes, November 1990
Box: 2 Folder: 8 Oversize: FB-482-04
"Top dog: William Wegman photographs of Fay Ray at Linda Cathcart Gallery," Artweek - Typescript drafts and notes, May 3, 1990

Unpublished Work

Box: 2 Folder: 9
"Elegies, Alibis, and Spring" typescript drafts
Box: 2 Folder: 10
"Letters from Hong Kong" typescript draft with notes and revisions, 1993-1994
Box: 2 Folder: 11-12
"Lost" typescript draft with notes and revisions
Box: 2 Folder: 13
"Not just a pronoun" typescript draft with notes and revisions, 1994
Box: 2 Folder: 14
Typescript draft of early poems
Box: 2 Folder: 15
Typescript draft of miscellaneous poems and prose

Uncollected Published Poetry

Box: 3 Folder: 1
Publications List - Twenty-one poems published by journals and newspapers
Box: 3 Folder: 2 Oversize: FB-482-05
American Poetry Review - "From Vertigo," published poems, November - December 2004
Box: 3 Folder: 3 Oversize: FB-482-06
American Poetry Review - "Martha Ronk Lifson: Three poems" newsclipping, March - April 1988
Box: 3 Folder: 4
Antioch Review - "It's a desert still" photocopy of published poem, 1987
Box: 3 Folder: 5
Arshile Magazine - Photocopy of published poems, 1997
Box: 3 Folder: 6
Counter Clockwise - Final published poem, 1996
Box: 3 Folder: 7
Denver Quarterly - "Hunger, a cookbook," photocopy of published poem, 1993
Box: 3 Folder: 8
Hambone - Photocopies of published poems, 1988-1998
Box: 3 Folder: 9
HOW(ever) - "From the sofa series," published poems, 1990
Box: 3 Folder: 10
LA Weekly - "Memory: A Santa Fe moon," photocopy of published poem
Box: 3 Folder: 11
Magazine - Published poems, 1984
Box: 3 Folder: 12 Oversize: FB-482-07
Milkweed Chronicle - "Still life," photocopy of published poem, 1984
Box: 3 Folder: 13
Quotidian - Typescript drafts of poems, July - August 1999
Box: 3 Folder: 14
Talisman - Photocopy of published poems, 1993

Collected Published Poetry

Box: 3 Folder: 15 Oversize: FB-482-08
Life in L.A. (1983) - Published book
Desire in L.A. (1990)
Box: 3 Folder: 16
Poem drafts written before 1980, with notes
Box: 3 Folder: 17-19
Poem drafts and notes
Box: 3 Folder: 20
Published and unpublished reviews, 1990-1991
Box: 3 Folder: 21
Typescript drafts of early poems, includes unpublished poem drafts
Desert Geometries (1992)
Box: 3 Folder: 22
Old version of typescript drafts
Box: 4 Folder: 1
Typescript drafts, with notes and revisions
State of Mind (1995)
Box: 4 Folder: 2
"Mind of another," typescript draft
Box: 4 Folder: 3
Published and unpublished reviews, 1995-2002
Box: 4 Folder: 4
Typescript drafts with revisions, 1993-1994
Box: 4 Folder: 5
Book cover and final typescript draft
Box: 4 Folder: 6
Allegories (1998) - Typescript drafts
Emblems (1998)
Box: 4 Folder: 7
Contact lists for publishers and book subscribers, 1998
Box: 4 Folder: 8
Typescript drafts, with notes and revisions
Eyetrouble: Poems (1998)
Box: 4 Folder: 9
Typescript draft with notes and revisions
Box: 4 Folder: 10
Typescript drafts of poems
Box: 4 Folder: 11
Typescript draft with page numbers
Box: 4 Folder: 12
Final typescript draft
Box: 4 Folder: 13
Published book with handwritten notes from author
Box: 4 Folder: 14
Published reviews and press release
Box: 4 Folder: 15
Snapshots of the San Fernando Valley (2000) - Correspondence with Frank Romero, typescripts and final drafts, 1999-2000
Displeasures of the Table: Memoir as Caricature (2001)
Box: 4 Folder: 16
Typescript draft with notes and revisions, August 1993
Box: 5 Folder: 1-2
Typescript drafts with notes and revisions
Box: 5 Folder: 3
Updated typescript draft with notes and revisions
Box: 5 Folder: 4
Final typescript draft with notes and revisions
Box: 5 Folder: 5
Published reviews, 2001-2006
Why/Why Not (2003)
Box: 5 Folder: 6
Correspondence, 2001-2002
Box: 5 Folder: 7
Poem drafts
Box: 5 Folder: 8
Published and unpublished reviews, 2003
Box: 5 Folder: 9
Typescript draft, with notes and revisions, August 1996
Box: 5 Folder: 10
Typescript draft with revisions, December 1996
Box: 5 Folder: 11
Typescript draft with notes and revisions, 2002
Box: 6 Folder: 1
Part of typescript draft with notes and revisions, February 18, 2002
Box: 6 Folder: 2 Oversize: FB-482-09
Galley proofs and book cover sample, 2002
In a Landscape of Having to Repeat (2004)
Box: 6 Folder: 3
Correspondence, 2003-2004
Box: 6 Folder: 4
Typescripts and published reviews, 2005-2007
Box: 6 Folder: 5
Typescript draft with notes and revisions
Box: 6 Folder: 6
Final typescript draft, with notes and revisions, 2004
Box: 6 Folder: 7
Rotbahn (2005) - Typescript of translations by Ronk
Vertigo (2007)
Box: 6 Folder: 8
Correspondence with Coffeehouse Press regarding manuscript, 2006-2007
Box: 6 Folder: 9
Miscellaneous poem drafts, 2002
Box: 6 Folder: 10
Published review from Publisher's Weekly, September 2007
Box: 6 Folder: 11
Typescript draft, January 28, 2005
Box: 6 Folder: 12-17
Typescript drafts with notes and revisions, 2005
Box: 7 Folder: 1
Typescript draft with notes and revisions, September 17, 2005
Box: 7 Folder: 2
Typescript draft, January 24, 2006
Box: 7 Folder: 3-4
Galley proofs with corrections, 2007
Glass Grapes: Stories (2008)
Box: 7 Folder: 5-7
Typescript drafts with notes and revisions
Box: 7 Folder: 8
Final typescript draft with notes and revisions


Littoral Books
Box: 8 Folder: 1
Correspondence, February 1990 - May 2000
Box: 8 Folder: 2 Oversize: FB-482-10
Empire Life by George Albon, galley proof of book cover, 1998
Box: 8 Folder: 3
Manuscript list and payment sales, 1991-1998
Box: 8 Folder: 4
Manuscript submissions
Box: 8 Folder: 5
Notes, agendas and meeting minutes, 1996-2000
Box: 8 Folder: 6
Press releases and reviews, 1991-2000
Box: 8 Folder: 7
Reading announcement sponsored by Littoral Books
Box: 8 Folder: 8
Subscriber contact information
New Review of Literature
Box: 8 Folder: 9
March 2002 - October 2004
Box: 8 Folder: 10
February 2005 - March 2006
Box: 8 Folder: 11
July 2006 - April 2007
Box: 8 Folder: 12
List of contributors for various issues, 2006-2007
Box: 8 Folder: 13
Miscellaneous manuscript submissions
Box: 9 Folder: 1
Submission guidelines and production schedule, 2005 - 2007


Box: 9 Folder: 2
Frank, Peter - "Muses, self-help graphics, master drawings from Stanford University," photocopy of published review, December 28, 1995
Box: 9 Folder: 3
Schaeffer, Standard - Impossible city: The poetic avante-garde in L.A., copy of publication, 1998
Box: 9 Folder: 4 Oversize: FB-482-11
Waldre, D.J. - "Our new Jerusalems," copy of article from the Los Angeles Times Book Review, December 24, 2000
Box: 9 Folder: 5
Zachary, R.Y. - "Signs of new poetry in California," typescript draft


Box: 9 Folder: 6
Associated Writing Programs Conference - Correspondence and proposal, 1997
Box: 9 Folder: 7
First Annual Conference of the College of Neglected Science - Outline, notes and correspondence, 1992-1997
Box: 9 Folder: 8
LA Poetry Festival - Essay and draft written by Ronk, 1992
Box: 9 Folder: 9
La Terra Nova Festival - Correspondence, press releases and notes, 1990
Box: 9 Folder: 10
Los Angeles Writers on Site Program - Application and CV, 1998
Page Mother's Conference
Box: 9 Folder: 11
Correspondence, 1999
Box: 9 Folder: 12
Schedule and notes, 1999
Place as Purpose Conference
Box: 9 Folder: 13
Correspondence, 2001-2002
Box: 9 Folder: 14
Conference schedule and participant information, 2002
Box: 9 Folder: 15
Press releases and flyers, 2002
Poetics of Memory Conference
Box: 9 Folder: 16
Correspondence , 2005-2006
Box: 9 Folder: 17
Notes and conference outline, 2006
Box: 9 Folder: 18
Panelist essays and criticism, 1990-2006
Box: 9 Folder: 19
Reading announcements & flyers, 1991 - 2007
Box: 9 Folder: 20
Words About the River Conference - Correspondence and typescript drafts, November 1999


Box: 9 Folder: 21
LA Times - "Meeting of minds for local poets," photocopy of newsclipping regarding workshop sponsored by UCLA Extension
Box: 9 Folder: 22
QuadAngle: The newsletter for employees of Occidental College - "Thorne packed for opening convocation", September 26, 1990
Box: 9 Folder: 23
Teaching materials - Occidental College core and faculty programs, 1993 - 2000