Guide to the Robert M. Petersen Papers MS.337

Finding aid prepared by Nicholas G. Meriwether
University of California, Santa Cruz
1156 High Street
Santa Cruz, CA, 95064
(831) 459-2547
speccoll@library.ucsc.edu
© 2014


Title: Robert M. Petersen Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MS.337
Contributing Institution: University of California, Santa Cruz
Language of Material: English
Physical Description: 0.75 Linear feet 2 boxes
Date (bulk): Bulk, 1959-1985
Date (inclusive): 1936-1987
Abstract: This collection consists of poetry, prose, and lyrics written by Robert M. "Bobby" Petersen, along with some supporting material: notes, correspondence, photographs, and ephemera.
Location: The collection is located in Special Collections and Archives. No advance notice is required for consultation.
creator: Petersen, Robert M., 1938-1987

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated in 2010 by Alan Trist. Additional materials were donated by Richard Wilcox in 2012.

Access

The collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

Property rights reside with the University of California. Literary rights are retained by Didrik Petersen and administered by Alan Trist. For permission to quote, publish, or reproduce the material, please contact the Grateful Dead Archivist.

Biography

Robert McLane Petersen (1936-1987) was a poet best known for the four lyrics he wrote for the Grateful Dead: "New Potato Caboose," "Pride of Cucamonga," "Unbroken Chain," and "Revolutionary Hamstrung Blues." Born in Klamath Falls, OR, Petersen moved to Sacramento, CA, as a boy. He attended the College of San Mateo, where he became friends with Phil Lesh, and was an active participant in the Palo Alto/peninsula post-Beat bohemian scene in which the Grateful Dead emerged. He married Cecilia Jane Adams in 1962; they had one child, Didrik, born in 1964.
Petersen served two prison terms; his first produced the unpublished chapbook "Blue Petre," later included in Alleys of the Heart: The Collected Poems of Robert M. Petersen. In his first published collection, Far Away Radios, he wrote that his poetry had been published in several small press and alternative publications.
A participant in the Grateful Dead community until his death, Petersen attended concerts and traveled with the band on their spring 1986 tour. He died in San Francisco in January 1987 after experiencing a stroke, following the Dead's New Year's Eve performance. He was returning to Cottage Grove, OR, where he was living at the time.

Scope and Content of Collection

The collection consists of manuscripts, typescripts, and one chapbook paste-up, including poetry, prose, lyrics, notes, and correspondence, along with photographs and a few items written by others.

Processing Information

The collection had lost any original arrangement by the time of its donation. Materials were organized according to genre and arranged alphabetically and chronologically. A substantial number of photocopies duplicating material in the collection were discarded; a few photocopies with no original were retained.

Arrangement

The collection is arranged according to four series: Collections; Lyrics; Poetry; and Prose and Miscellaneous. Several factors made reconstruction of Petersen's archive challenging. His peripatetic lifestyle meant that drafts of his work were not assembled and maintained in the order in which they were created and edited, and he gave drafts of some works to friends. He paginated longer works only occasionally. Often Petersen grouped poems together to create longer works, either as individual long poems or small collections; those groupings were retained in processing. Manuscript emendations, paper type, and typewriter characteristics all helped to determine arrangement. Untitled works are listed by first line.

Custodial History

The bulk of the materials in the collection were assembled by Alan Trist over more than two decades. In 2008, he transferred those to Nicholas Meriwether for textual analysis and preliminary conservation. When Meriwether was named Grateful Dead Archivist at UC Santa Cruz in 2010, Trist donated the collection to Special Collections and Archives, McHenry Library. A second, small accrual of additional materials was donated in 2012 by Richard Wilcox, one of Petersen's friends, via Alan Trist.

Bibliography

Two anthologies of Petersen's poetry have been published. The first, Far Away Radios, had two printings; the second, posthumous collection, Alleys of the Heart, was assembled by Petersen's friend, longtime band family member and Ice Nine manager Alan Trist. The copyright page of Far Away Radios states that a number of poems included in that anthology had been published in several literary magazines and alternative publications: The Willie, San Francisco Phoenix, Georgia Straight, and Desperado.
Robert M. Petersen. Far Away Radios. Arcata, CA: Bug Press, 1980.
Robert M. Petersen. Far Away Radios. 2nd printing. San Anselmo, CA: San Anslemo Printing, [1984]. Note: This printing sponsored by Grateful Dead Productions.
Trist, Alan, ed. Alleys of the Heart: The Collected Poems of Robert M. Petersen. Eugene, OR: Hulogosi, 1988.

Preferred Citation

Robert M. Petersen Papers, MS 337. Special Collections and Archives, University Library, University of California, Santa Cruz.

Subjects and Indexing Terms

Grateful Dead (Musical group)
Petersen, Robert M., 1938-1987

Box 1, Folder 1

Collection Notes

 

Series 1: Collections

Box 1, Folder 2

Alleys of the Heart Rejects

Physical Description: 21 pages.
Box 1, Folder 3

Alleyways of the Heart

Physical Description: 1 bound volume.

Note

Velobound typescript draft of what would become Alleys of the Heart, dated March 7, 1988.
Box 1, Folder 4

Lama Mountain

Physical Description: 12 pages.
Box 1, Folder 5

Pecker Poles, Rejects

Physical Description: 16 pages.
Box 1, Folder 6

Pecker Poles Paste-Ups

Physical Description: 8 pages.
 

Series 2: Lyrics

Box 1, Folder 7

Pretty to Remember

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 1, Folder 8

Pride of Cucamonga

Physical Description: 3 pages.
Box 1, Folder 9

Revolutionary Hamstrung Blues

Physical Description: 6 pages.
Box 1, Folder 10

Sheet-Iron Jack Was A Highwayman

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 11

The Flying of the Raven

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 12

Upon the Road A Silver Scarab

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 13

Winter Blue

Physical Description: 1 page.
Note: Differs completely from the poem by the same name.
 

Series 3: Poetry

Box 1, Folder 14

4.

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 15

10

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 16

A Pale Streak Above the Paulinas

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 17

A Poem Edged in Black

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 18

Alta California

Physical Description: 2 pages.

Note

Likely fragment; second page possibly to a different poem.
Box 1, Folder 19

Azul! Azul! Azul!

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 20

Balboa Called It

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 21

Beginning Again / As An

Physical Description: 4 pages.

Note

Pages numbered 1, 2, 4, 5.
Box 1, Folder 22

Big Sur

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 23

Black Point Blues

Physical Description: 3 pages.
Box 1, Folder 24

Border Ruffian Flat

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 25

Breakfast at Eliodoro's

Physical Description: 13 pages.

Note

Two complete drafts, one with hand-written emendations.
Box 1, Folder 26

Cabin Fever

Physical Description: 6 pages.

Note

May be missing one or more pages; arrangement unclear.
Box 1, Folder 27

Cabanas

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 28

City News

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 29

City of Angels

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 30

Collision Course

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 31

Coyote

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 32

Eons

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 33

Fern Rock

Physical Description: 5 pages.

Note

Incomplete, based on the published version in Alleys of the Heart, pp.96-103.
Box 1, Folder 34

Five Seismic Disturbances

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 1, Folder 35

For Bobby Hutton

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 36

For Didrik

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 37

For Jane

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 38

For Lady Day

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 39

From Alta California

Physical Description: 4 pages.

Note

Two incomplete drafts, one comprising a variant first page.
Box 1, Folder 40

From Iron Peak Lookout

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 41

From the Well-Spring

Physical Description: 17 pages.

Note

Probably incomplete; arrangement approximate. Overlap with other poems (eg, "Fern Rock") suggests that this may be a concatenation of several poems.
Box 1, Folder 42

Galaxie

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 43

Goat Rock

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 44

Hitch-Hike Fragment

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 1, Folder 45

Home

Physical Description: 4 pages.
Box 1, Folder 46

Horses and Mules

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 47

Hot Springs, Big Sur

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 48

Hotel

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 49

I Turned the Corner

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 50

It Would've Been Like Pistol-Whipping

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 51

Lines From the Smoke Creek Desert

Physical Description: 5 pages.
Box 1, Folder 52

Mating Season

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 1, Folder 52

Mirages

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 1, Folder 54

Morning Raga

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 55

My Dream of California

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 1, Folder 56

My Night Roaring

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 57

Myself

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 58

Notebook, 1977

Physical Description: 15 pages.
Box 1, Folder 59

Notebook MSS, Undated

Physical Description: 6 pages.
Box 1, Folder 60

Noyo River

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 61

Oregon Graffiti

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 62

Oux-Kanee

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 64

Pecker Poles

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 64

Poem Written on a Hot Day

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 65

Portrait: Laughing Gull

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 66

Portrait: The Raven

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 68

Project City

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 69

Punta Gorda

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 70

Red River

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 71

Rio Del Mar

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 72

San Francisco Blues

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 1, Folder 73

San Joaquin

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 74

Santa Lucia

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 75

Short Frantic Letter to the Muse

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 76

Springtime Hidden in the Mountains

Physical Description: 5 pages.

Note

Two drafts, one comprising a variant of the first page.
Box 1, Folder 77

Stones

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 78

Sweet Dreamy Days

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 79

Sweet Young

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 80

Tender Grapes

Physical Description: 15 pages.
Box 1, Folder 81

The Bear

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 82

The Bones of Sonora

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 1, Folder 83

The Deer Move Without Our Seeing

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 84

The Land of Lorca

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 85

The Slow Dry Crawl

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 86

Them Mean Old Red Mountain Blues

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 87

This Night

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 88

Threetree Jerro

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 89

Viejo

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 90

Waves of Grass in a Meadow

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 91

Winter Blue

Physical Description: 1 page.
 

Series 4: Prose and Miscellaneous

Box 2, Folder 1

Blues 4 A.M.

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 2, Folder 2

Daylight Savings Time

Physical Description: 24 pages.

Note

Three drafts, one duplicated with carbon paper.
Box 1, Folder 3

Midnight Hour

Physical Description: 1 page.
Box 1, Folder 4

Untitled Essay

Physical Description: 35 pages.

Note

Multiple drafts, all incomplete.
Box 2, Folder 5

Correspondence

Physical Description: 2 pages.

Note

One letter from Petersen to Viejo; one from Richard Wilcox to Petersen.
Box 2, Folder 6

Notes, Ephemera

Physical Description: 5 pages.
Box 2, Folder 7

Photographs

Physical Description: 8 items.
 

Poems to Petersen

Physical Description: 2 pages.
Box 2, Folder 8

Exhibit, Display Material

Physical Description: 4 items.

Note

File folders and envelopes retained for possible exhibit.