||The Miller Williams papers were created between the years 1930 and 2014 and include
correspondence, manuscripts, photographs, proofs, diaries, clippings, and printed
material belonging to the American poet, translator, editor, and teacher Miller
Williams (1930-2015). These personal and vocational papers documenting Williams'
career as a writer and educator are in an arrangement created by the Ransom Center.
They are organized in five series: I. Literary Activities, 1943-2009; II.
Correspondence, 1957-2014; III. Biography and Personal, 1930-2011; IV. Manuscript
and Print Material, 1966-2012; and V. John Ciardi papers, 1937-2008.
||The Literary Activities series is subdivided into four subseries: A. Original Works
by Miller Williams; B. Selections, Collections, and Translations; C. Works Edited
Miller Williams; and D. Business Records. Subseries A. Original Works by Miller
Williams (2.5 boxes) contains few manuscripts, most significantly various drafts of
his unpublished autobiography, The Lives of Miller Williams. The subseries is
dominated by correspondence, a reflection of Williams' need in his capacity as
editor of his own poems to have proper copyright and permissions oversight. As a
result most of the correspondents in the subseries are publishers (dominated by
Louisiana State University Press, Williams' most frequent publisher), journals,
literary agents, and (not infrequently) other writers. A significant number of
reviews are also present for Williams' collected poems and critical works.
||Subseries B. Selections, Collections, and Translations (.5 box) comprises Miller
Williams' comments on his poetic sources; found here as well are minor and
occasional pieces, translations (in manuscript mostly) of his poems, and notes for
his public speaking appearances.
||Subseries C. Works Edited by Miller Williams (5 boxes) contains material generally
similar to Subseries A in that editorial correspondence represents the bulk of the
series. Few manuscripts are present, the principal exception being Williams'
typescript in photocopy of his translation of Sonnets of
Giuseppe Belli. This manuscript also bears marginal notes by Williams'
colleague and fellow poet James Whitehead.
||Publishing files of the two collections of poems by Chilean poet Nicanor Parra
translated by Williams are present in the subseries. Parra's Emergency Poems is represented by correspondence with New Directions
Publishing; the Poems and Antipoems file contains
more correspondence and galleys in photocopy.
||Also in this subseries is The Genealogy of American Poetry. This extensive collection
of American poetry in photocopy, arranged by school (each section being prefaced by
brief remarks by Williams) was created for duplication as class handout material in
his graduate English classes about the year 2000.
||Two substantial anthologies involving Williams as editor are found in the subseries.
These are Southern Writing in the Sixties (published
by LSU Press in two volumes in 1966 and 1967, and co-edited with John William
Corrington) and Contemporary Poetry in America
(Random House, 1973). For both these titles extensive correspondence with the
individual writers anthologized is present, as well as Williams' correspondence with
||Subseries D. Business Records (1 box) contains not only Williams' contracts,
copyright documents, and permissions for his published works, but also contracts
concerning household matters and academic affairs generally. The permissions present
here concern translation by Williams of others' work as well as permissions requests
for translation of his work into other languages.
||The Correspondence series is subdivided into three subseries: A. Correspondence:
Publishers and Agents; B. General Correspondence; and C. "Fussing" Correspondence.
The first subseries, A. Correspondence: Publishers and Agents (1 box), contains
substantial correspondence with E. P. Dutton, LSU Press, Spoken Arts, and literary
agent Phoebe Larmore, as well as with other publishers and journals. In many cases
the correspondence filed here parallels that found under the various individual
titles in Series I.
||Subseries B. General Correspondence (6 boxes) is primarily personal correspondence
with other poets like John Ciardi, Dan Masterson, John F. Nims, and Dr. John Stone.
Other files present here include Jimmy Carter, Simon Dinnerstein, R. S. Gwynn, Tom
T. Hall, Samuel Hazo, Jo McDougall, Nicanor Parra, Chelsea Rathburn, Leon
Stokesbury, and Lewis Turco. There are also a number of topical files present
(including the 1989 American Association of University Presses trip to Soviet
Russia, inmates and parolees whom Williams had taught, and his seventieth birthday
celebration). The great number of congratulatory notes produced by the 1997
inaugural poem is contained in two large albums.
||Subseries C. "Fussing" Correspondence (.5 box) is a collection of Miller Williams'
correspondence—maintained by him with this title—united by the theme of personal
confrontation. The personal and professional letters document his efforts to voice
his dissatisfaction with various people and/or organizations. Examples such as legal
representation against a musical instrument repairman for improper work on the
guitar of daughter Lucinda, or a personal letter to the Chrysler Corporation
complaining about defects in a new 1969 Plymouth station wagon. Other topics include
complaints about unresponsive sales people and Loyola University's threatened
withdrawal of financial support for the New Orleans
||Series III. Biography and Personal (4.5 boxes) comprises three subseries. A.
Biography contains articles, clippings, reviews, publicity materials, theses, and
term papers devoted to Miller Williams and his work. Much of this material is
contained in eight albums. Subseries B. Honors and Recognition embraces
correspondence, clippings, and related materials devoted to the growing appreciation
of Williams as writer, translator, and educator. Subseries C. Personal Papers
contains a significant group of materials illuminating Williams' relationship with
President Jimmy Carter in the period the former president was working on his own
poetry for the collection ultimately entitled Always a
Reckoning. Also found in these papers is correspondence, photographs,
and printed matter relating to songwriter and singer Tom T. Hall, who had first
introduced Williams to Jimmy Carter.
||Series IV. Manuscript and Print Material (4 boxes) houses a number of literary
manuscripts, including several by friends and colleagues of Williams, such as Samuel
Hazo, John Stone, Lewis Turco, and James Whitehead. The Whitehead item is an undated
twenty-page handwritten draft entitled About Miller Williams.
||Among the printed matter in the series are a number of works by the artist Meo
Carbone and articles and press releases by Williams' friend George Haley. Other
print items include a group of periodicals and monographs containing material about
Williams, as well as a file of newspaper issues with articles on the threatened 1998
closing of the University of Arkansas Press.
||Series V. John Ciardi Papers (5.5 boxes) represents material made available to Miller
Williams after he was named Ciardi's literary executor in 1986. It is arranged in
five subseries: A. Works; B. Works-related Records; C. Biographical Material and D.
Correspondence; and E. Ciardi in Print. From this cache Williams saw Echoes,
Mummy Took Cooking Lessons, and Saipan through to publication. For the latter work the
two original journals Ciardi kept as an air force sergeant in the U.S. and on Saipan
in the final stages of World War II are present.
||Two Italian quaderni with extensive academic notes written with fountain pen in a
small neat hand probably date from the late 1930 to early 1940s. Also present are
two steno pads. One of these, dating from the 1950s to the early 1960s, contains a
few addresses and miscellaneous notes in ball point pen; a short story draft in the
first person, also in ball point, is found in a second pad and probably originated
the same period.
||Miller Williams' letters to his close friend John Ciardi for the years 1961 to 1984
are present in these papers. The letters in Subseries D, combined with Ciardi's to
Williams present in Subseries B, constitute nearly the whole of their quarter