Martha Ronk Papers, 1983-2019 (MSS 697)

Extent: 6.3 Linear feet (12 archives boxes and 3 oversize folders), + .3 GB of digital files

Digital Content

The collection contains some digital photographs.

Papers of Martha Ronk, fiction writer, editor, and American poet. The papers primarily document Ronk's literary correspondence, poetry manuscripts, and editorial projects beginning from the mid-1980s.

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. 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.


Container List


Scope and Content of Series

Series 1) CORRESPONDENCE: 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 Books and The New Review of Literature. Arranged in alphabetical order by correspondent.

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


Scope and Content of Series

Series 2) WRITINGS BY RONK. Arranged in four subseries: A) Articles and Reviews, B) Unpublished Work, C) Uncollected Published Poetry, and D) Collected Published Poetry.

A) Articles and Reviews: Articles and drafts, both published and unpublished, written by Ronk. Includes art reviews written by Ronk for the journal Artweek in 1989 and 1990. Arranged in alphabetical order by title.

B) Unpublished Work: Typescript drafts of collected and uncollected poems written by Ronk, including the titles "Lost," "Letters from Hong Kong," and "Elegies, Alibis, and Spring."

C) Uncollected Published Poetry: 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) Collected Published Poetry: 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.

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
"Fooling with mother nature: John Divola at Jan Kesner Gallery," Artweek - Typescript, notes and final draft, February 1, 1990
Box 2 Folder 3
"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
"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
"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
American Poetry Review - "From Vertigo," published poems, November - December 2004
Box 3 Folder 3
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
Oversize FB-482 Folder 9
Milkweed Chronicle - "Still life", 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

Oversize FB-482 Folder 10
Life in L.A. (1983)

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
Oversize FB-482 Folder 11
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


Scope and Content of Series

Series 3) EDITORIAL PROJECTS: 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.

Littoral Books

Box 8 Folder 1
Correspondence, February 1990 - May 2000
Box 8 Folder 2
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


Scope and Content of Series

Series 4) CRITICISMS AND REVIEWS: 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.

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 5
Zachary, R.Y. - "Signs of new poetry in California," typescript draft


Scope and Content of Series

Series 5) READINGS AND WORKSHOPS: 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.

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


Scope and Content of Series

Series 6) 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.

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



Box 9 Folder 24
Reviews and publicity, 2005-2016
Box 9 Folder 25
National Poetry Series and National Book Awards publicity, 2006-2013
Box 9 Folder 26
Resume and bibliography, 2019
Box 10 Folder 1
Interviews with Martha Ronk, undated

Includes one interview conducted by Rusty Morrison, and one interview focused on "Partially Kept."

Box 10 Folder 2
Ephemera and poetry event flyers

Writings and poetry

Box 10 Folder 3
Reviews written by Martha Ronk, 2009-2018
Box 10 Folder 4
Miscellaneous "rejected" poetry drafts, undated
Box 10 Folder 5
Miscellaneous poetry drafts, undated
Box 10 Folder 6-8
Partially Kept - Drafts, correspondence, publication material, 2006-2012

Earlier materials (2006-2008) refer to working titles of "Partially Kept" as "Alpine," and "My Partial Tongue." Correspondence and publications refer to Nightboat Books and Stephen Motika.

Box 10 Folder 9
American Woman Poets in the 21st Century: From Lyric to Language - Anthology contribution, 2007

Contains correspondence and drafts for contribution.

Box 10 Folder 10
Fiction collection #2, 2009-2010

"A Tourist," "I Sit Still, I Sit Very Still," and "In Order to Recuperate."

Box 11 Folder 1-2
Transfer of Qualities - Drafts
Box 11 Folder 3-4
Ocular Proof - Drafts and research, 2010-2016

Includes correspondence with Rusty Morrison.

Box 11 Folder 5
Unfamiliar Familiar - Drafts and notes, 2015-2016

Includes edit notes from Paul Vangelisti.

Box 11 Folder 6
Ariadne, a Series - Draft material, 2019

Collection of poems responding to a series of paintings by De Chirico that illustrate the myth of Ariadne.

Box 11 Folder 7
Poetics statement, Wesleyan University, undated
Box 12 Folder 1-3
Silences - Drafts and research, and "The blackbird whistling or just after", 2017-2019

Includes correspondence with Cassandra Smith.

Conferences and lectures

Box 12 Folder 4
Quotidian Conference, 1999-2000

Includes correspondence (Brian Teare, Michael Palmer, Paul Vangelisti), scheduling, and a copy of Ronk's lecture.

Box 12 Folder 5
Place as Purpose poetry conference, 2002

Includes correspondence, notes, and "border and genre panel" materials including poems.

Box 12 Folder 6
Memory in Writing, 2004-2006

ECLS 380 Creative Writing (Occidental College) and "Landscape and Memory," (Naropa). Includes syllabi and readings with Ronk's annotations. Annotations focus on works by Robert Creely and Barbara Guest.

Box 12 Folder 7
Poet's House lecture - Images and Words, 2007

Includes drafts with annotations.

Box 12 Folder 8
Found in Translation: Parallel Stories lecture, Santa Barbara, 2017 April
Digital file 1
Digital photographs - Ronk at MacDowell Colony, Peterborough, NH, 2006

Ronk's pictures from MacDowell, primarily of others in her cohort. Approx. 137 jpegs.