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Norman Dubie Papers

Identifier: MsC0409

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Scope and Contents

Quoting from the bookseller who offered this collection: "An archive of correspondence, typescript drafts and annotated photocopies of poems and galley proofs from Norman Dubie to David St. John; circa mid-1970s to 2002. "Included are several drafts of typed poems on which Dubie has written short notes to St. John; he also indicates revisions, marks when the poem is in its "Final Draft," or asks St. John's opinion. The unbound leaves that make up "The Springhouse," for example, feature 15 leaves with notes from Dubie to St. John; evidently, Dubie would send his friend several pages of poetry at a time, indicating a poem's intended placement in the book or providing his own opinion of it. According to St. John, the bulk of Dubie's draft poems included here - he estimates between 100 and 150, at least - were never published in his books. "The bulk of the contents of the letters is purely poetry business; Dubie talks extensively about changes he made and why; discusses the poems' arrangement and placement in his books; and asks St. John's opinion. Dubie clearly trusted and valued St. John's input on his poetry; this correspondence is evidence that the pair had a vibrant working relationship. Dubie talks less frequently about personal matters, but it is also obvious that he and St. John had a warm friendship. "Most of Dubie's correspondence was written on Arizona State University letterhead; Dubie has worked in various capacities at ASU - as the writer-in-residence (1975-1976); a lecturer (1976-1983); director of the graduate writing program (since 1976) and a professor of English (since 1983). "Dubie was teaching at the Writers Workshop in Iowa in 1972 when St. John went there. This sparked a relationship - both personal and professional - that has endured to this day. Dubie and St. John sent nearly every poem they wrote to each other for encouragement and criticism; some poems in this collection include Dubie's thoughts on St. John's poems; for example: "Thanks for the two poems - their formal properties are their greatest secret - very enchanting" (July 18, 1983). "In a series of five letters from the spring and summer of 1984, Dubie keeps St. John abreast of a new book he's writing; this would become The Springhouse (1986). He begins, "Thought you would like to see how the book has advanced, formed...The third section will be love poems after a fashion. As poems come to you just place them in the 3rd section in the order of their arrival - that's how this book grows, of time!" (May 16th); the next letter informs, "I've decided to slow down this book - I'm junking two poems... I'm also emptying the third section of the book this means an increase for the 2nd section - this means 10 poems in each section and a greater mood range through the 2nd section" (June 11, 1984). On the verso of this letter Dubie proposes a draft Table of Contents. The next letter further develops their arrangement, "I've decided to title the sections in The Springhouse. So in caps and italic after the roman numerals in the Contents page put: I. THE DIAMOND PERSONA II. SANCTUARY III. LAMENTATIONS" (July 2); In a letter dated August 12 his plans have changed again: 'Help. I am preparing for a purge of the third section of the book & everything stands for us save THE FRENCH AND INDIAN WARS? It doesn't work for Jeannine and yet the little boy in me who loved that period in history thinks it does work. WHAT DO YOU THINK. ...In CURRIER & IVES it is now a sinkhole rather than the sinkhole. Also in LAMENTATIONS I brought the last word of the poem - 'farewell' up to the end of the previous line; fuck/the couplet!' "He adds afterward, by hand, "I love this poem. "This collection of correspondence - and the corresponding poems - that Dubie had with St. John provides invaluable insight into the process of poetic production; Dubie's explanations of his work and the choices he makes reveal a poet dedicated to his craft and the effort of the editing and arranging process. They also illustrate a flourishing friendship and a nourishing professional relationship between two poets."


  • Creation: 1970-1993
  • Creation: Majority of material found within 1970-1979


Conditions Governing Access

This collection is open for research.

Conditions Governing Use

Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.


8.00 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Poet: numerous books from Alehouse Sonnets (1971) to Funeral (1998). Manuscripts, correspondence, other papers.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

The materials in the collection were gifted by Norman Dubie.

Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Iowa Special Collections Repository

Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City IA 52242 IaU
319-335-5900 (Fax)