Scope and Contents of Collection
Title: Joanne Kyger Papers
Identifier/Call Number: MSS 730
Mandeville Special Collections Library
La Jolla, California 92093-0175
Language of Material:
22.0 Linear feet
43 archives boxes, 1 records carton, 2 shoe boxes, 2 flat boxes and 9 mapcase folders
Date (inclusive): 1950-2009
The papers of Joanne Kyger, an important member of the 'post-beat' West Coast poetry community. The papers document Kyger's
life and writing as she traveled through San Francisco, Japan, New York, and Bolinas, California. The bulk of the collection
covers the period from 1957 through 2007 and includes correspondence, poetry manuscripts and typescripts, ephemera, photographs,
and audio recordings.
Joanne Kyger is a West Coast poet who emerged as the Beat movement was beginning to wane in the 1960s. The daughter of Jacob
and Anne Kyger, she was born November 19, 1934. Her father's career as a navy officer led to a peripatetic early life: by
the time she was fourteen she had lived in Vallejo, Ca. (where she was born), China, Washington, Pennsylvania, Florida, and
Illinois. Her father retired in 1949, and the family settled permanently in Santa Barbara, Ca.
Kyger attended the University of California at Santa Barbara from 1952 to 1956, where she took classes with Hugh Kenner and
Paul Wienphal both of whom were important to the development of her poetry. She left the University one unit short of her
degree, and the following year moved to the San Francisco Bay Area. Kyger soon got a job working at Brentano's Bookstore in
San Francisco's North Beach, and she usually spent her nights sharing poems with friends at poetry bars. In 1957 she met John
Wieners at The Place, one of the poetry bars, and through him met Robert Duncan and Jack Spicer; it was also during this time
that she first met Gary Snyder. Duncan and Spicer were the doyens of a group of poets who would gather on Sundays to read
and discuss each other's work. Kyger said of those meetings: "They (Duncan and Spicer) would read what they had written, and
everybody else would read what they had written. And you would be severely criticised. A lot of people would be so heavily
criticised that they wouldn't come back."
Later Kyger moved to the East West House, where such writers as Philip Whalen, Lew Welch, and Jack Kerouac were occasional
residents. In 1960 she moved to Japan, where she and Snyder were married on February 23. There were two ceremonies: one by
the American consul and another at the Daitoku ji monastery in Kyoto. Her life with Snyder in Kyoto and later in India is
the subject of
The Japan and India Journals, 1960-1964 (1981).
Following her divorce from Snyder in 1964 Kyger returned to the Bay Area. She has said about this time, "I just took off on
this big energy cruise. I had lots to say to everybody, and it wasn't like playing second fiddle anymore." The following year
Donald Allen published her first book,
The Tapestry and the Web (1965).
In 1966 Kyger married the painter Jack Boyce, and together they travelled through Spain, France, Italy, and England. Upon
their return Kyger and Boyce stayed briefly in New York, and then in 1967 returned to the San Francisco area where they spent
the next year. In 1968 the two traveled to Bodega Bay, then to Bolinas in 1969, where Kyger has continued to live (she and
Boyce separated in 1970). In the 1970s Bolinas was known for being a center for wandering poets, as well as a home for Philip
Whalen, Robert Creeley, Donald Allen, Tom Clark, and others. Kyger has maintained an active presence in the community, and
has been particularly concerned with environmental issues. She has also continued to travel extensively including several
trips to Mexico while continuing to publish her poetry.
The University of California, San Diego, Mandeville Special Collections Library also holds an additional collection of correspondence
from Joanne Kyger, located in MSS 8, Joanne Kyger Correspondence.
Joanne Kyger Papers, MSS 730. Mandeville Special Collections Library, UCSD.
Scope and Contents of Collection
The Joanne Kyger Papers document Kyger's career as a poet and important member of the West Coast poetry community. Materials
include correspondence with prominent poets, artists, and editors; manuscript and typescript drafts of Kyger's poetry; and
audio recordings of spoken word events. The papers range in date from 1950 through 2009 and are arranged in seven series:
1) BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS, 2) CORRESPONDENCE, 3) WRITINGS, 4) WRITINGS OF OTHERS, 5) OTHER PROJECTS, 6) SUBJECT FILES, and
7) IMAGES & RECORDINGS.
SERIES 1: BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS
The BIOGRAPHICAL MATERIALS series contains award and grant information; newspaper clippings about Kyger's life and work; personal
papers including calendars, biographies, and notes; and interviews with Kyger for various publications and projects. Materials
related to Kyger's marriage to Gary Snyder are also located in the series. Materials include photographs of their wedding
and reception, a photocopy of the marriage certificate, and newspaper clippings about the event.
SERIES 2: CORRESPONDENCE
The CORRESPONDENCE series is comprised of letters, cards, email, and postcards from friends, family, colleagues, editors,
and publishers, ranging in date from 1950 to 2008. Correspondence details Kyger's life in San Francisco, Japan, New York,
and Bolinas, California, as well as her working relationships with various publishers and magazine editors. Notable correspondents
include Donald Allen, Ebbe Borregaard, Joe Brainard, Robert Creeley, Nemi Frost, Gary Snyder, Anne Waldman, Lewis Warsh, and
Philip Whalen. Also of interest are a small number of typescript carbons of letters written by Kyger to friends and family
describing her time in Japan.
The series is arranged alphabetically by correspondent. Unidentified correspondents are arranged chronologically at the end
of the series.
SERIES 3: WRITINGS
The WRITINGS series includes handwritten and typescript poetry and writings - completed works as well as fragments of work
in progress. The series is arranged in two subseries: A) Chronological Files and B) Collaborations.
A) The Chronological Files subseries includes handwritten and typescript manuscripts and drafts; scrapbooks of Kyger's work
on school newspapers; journals and manuscripts for published works, including books where Kyger was a contributor; and, in
the case of published projects, correspondence, contracts, galley copies, and page proofs. Of particular interest are the
original bound journals Kyger kept in while in Japan and used to create
Japan and India Journals published in 1981.
The files, ranging in date from 1951 to 2007, are arranged chronologically and in most cases retain Kyger's original folder
B) The Collaborations subseries, arranged chronologically, contains pieces written by Kyger with friends and fellow writers.
One unusual piece is a typescript on toilet paper, which Kyger wrote with Stan Persky in 1959. The piece, titled "In the Tunnel,"
is extremely fragile and a copy has been made for patron use.
SERIES 4: WRITINGS OF OTHERS
The WRITINGS OF OTHERS series is arranged alphabetically by author and primarily contains poetry, reviews, essays, and articles,
written about Joanne Kyger and her work. In most cases, files contain typescript drafts, annotated by Kyger, along with correspondence
between Kyger and the author. The series includes a 1964 article published in
Kado: Japanese Floral Art, that mentions Joanne Kyger's time learning flower arranging in Japan and includes an image of her work.
SERIES 5: OTHER PROJECTS
The OTHER PROJECTS series pulls together Kyger's activities outside of, but often still related to, writing. The series is
arranged in three subseries: A) Readings, B) Teaching, and C) Miscellaneous Projects.
A) Readings consists of correspondence, notes, posters, announcements, programs, and ephemera related to conferences and spoken
word events Kyger participated in between 1965-2007. The folders are arranged chronologically with undated material filed
at the end of the subseries.
B) The Teaching subseries includes material related to classes and workshops taught by Kyger on writing, journaling, and poetry,
from 1967-2003. Arranged chronologically, materials include class notes, correspondence, reference material, and ephemera.
C) The Miscellaneous Projects subseries documents art, poetry, and editing projects in which Kyger participated. Editing projects
include issues of the poetry journals
Wild Dog and
Turkey Buzzard Review, as well as local newspaper the
Bolinas Hearsay News. The subseries also contains materials related to the National Center for Experiments in Television (NCET). Kyger created
the video piece
Descartes (1968) while working at the NCET as an artist in residence.
SERIES 6: SUBJECT FILES
The SUBJECT FILES series is arranged alphabetically by topic and primarily contains newspaper clippings and ephemera. Subjects
include poets Ted Berrigan, Allen Ginsberg, Gary Snyder, and Philip Whalen, as well as the Beat Generation and Bolinas, California.
Miscellaneous ephemera is filed chronologically at the end of the series. The ephemera illustrates Kyger's life and interests
over the years, from peace marches in the 1960s to poetry readings by friends.
SERIES 7: IMAGES & RECORDINGS
The series is arranged in three subseries: A) Artwork, B) Photographs, and C) Audio Recordings.
A) The Artwork subseries is comprised of drawings and sketches made by Joanne Kyger and friends. The subseries includes work
by Bill Berkson, Tom Field, Nemi Frost, and Arthur Okamura, as well as collaborative drawings and sketchbooks comprised of
work by several artists. One drawing of particular interest is a pen & ink drawing depicting "Blabbermouth Night" at The Place
in San Francisco. The drawing has no identified artist and is located with the oversize, unidentified artwork.
B) A small number of images make up the Photographs subseries. Images include snapshots of Joanne Kyger and other poets including
Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg. Also included in the subseries are slides taken in 1972 by Roy Kiyooka labeled "A Day in Bolinas
& San Fran. with Friends."
C) Audio Recordings document spoken word events that Kyger participated in from 1966-2009. Reel-to-reel tapes, audio cassettes,
and a single CD document readings that include, along with Kyger, poets Robert Duncan, Lewis MacAdams, Gary Snyder, and Bobbie
Original material too fragile to handle from boxes 34 & 35 has been restricted; photocopies must be used instead. Contracts
containing social security numbers, located in Series 3, WRITINGS, are restricted until after Kyger's death. Also, reel-to-reel
recordings in box 42 are restricted. Researchers must request user copies be produced.
Publication rights are held by the creator of the collection.
Subjects and Indexing Terms
Allen, Donald Merriam, 1912-
Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005
Kyger, Joanne -- Archives
Notley, Alice, 1945-
Snyder, Gary, 1930-
Waldman, Anne, 1945-