Muriel Rukeyser now at PennSound
Some years ago, while reading around in the Poetry magazine archive in the Regenstein Library at the University of Chicago, I ran into a stack of letters to and from Lee Anderson. Anderson had just made an arrangement to present his archive of reels of audiotape to the Beinecke Library of Yale University. He would deliver recordings he'd made of poets to that date, and then would continue to record and deposit subsequent reels later. I took a mental note, but then forgot all about the project. Then, later, came PennSound; we began of course to collect and borrow recordings to add to the quickly growing online archive. More years went by. Last year I was back at the Regenstein, as it happens, giving a talk on Henry Rago at a conference there, and met the poet-archivist Nancy Kuhl, another of the presenters. Nancy is one of the head librarians at the Beinecke; we talked; then the fact of Lee Anderson's recordings came back to me. I asked Nancy about them, and, as it happens, she'd already started the process of digitizing a few of the old reels. Were we interested in perhaps requesting some as a priority? Yes. The result is, among other recordings we will present over the coming weeks and months, the 1959 recording of Muriel Rukeyser made by Anderson. Just today we have created our new Rukeyser author page, and, thanks to Anna Zalokostas, we have already segmented the poems in the reading and the discussion.
Nancy Kuhl's (and her colleagues') generosity made this possible. William ("Bill") Rukeyser, the poet's son, readily agreed that it was a good thing to make Muriel's recordings available. We are thrilled by this Beinecke/PennSound partnership and can hardly wait to bring you more from the Anderson tapes.