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John Engels Papers

Identifier: mss-291

Scope and Contents

The John Engels Collection includes correspondence concerning his poetry and its publications, and letters from a wide range of people including Galway Kinnell, Hayden Carruth, David Huddle, Marvin Bell, John Irving, Louise Gluck, Tess Gallagher, Daniel Halpern, X. J. Kennedy, his children, father, brother, and former students. It also includes award letters from the Guggenheim Foundation, Pulitzer Prize Committee. Perhaps the richest part of the collection is his book manuscripts, drafts, publishers' page proofs, and the voluminous amount of unpublished work, including drafts of poems and drafts published in Cardinals in the Ice Age. The collection arrived in a state that made it difficult to discern original arrangement of drafts and the origins of a particular fragment or poem. John Engels, himself, on several occasions has said that at times, when he needed a line of one poem while writing another, he would burrow through piles and boxes of drafts until he found what he wanted. None of the drafts are dated, and there are many versions and copies of individual poems, some with near identical texts but different titles, or the same title but a different text. To aid both the user and future processors, the inventory includes both a title index of fragments and a first line index, ordered alphabetically.


  • 1958-1995



Collection is open for research.

Publication Rights

All requests for permission to publish or quote from manuscripts must be submitted in writing to the Curator of Manuscripts.

Biographical / Historical

John Engels' 1993 book Walking to Cootehill was a finalist for the Pulitzer Prize. His 1987 book Cardinals in the Ice Age, was selected by Philip Levine as one of five winners in the 1986 National Poetry Series competition. His book Vivaldi in Early Fall was nominated for the 1984 Pulitzer Prize in Poetry. The poet was also a former Fulbright fellow and holder of fellowships from the Guggenheim Foundation, Rockefeller Foundation, and the National Endowment for the Arts. In addition to these distinctions, John Engels was named a Robert Frost Fellow in 1976 and was a resident at Yaddo. His publications include eleven books of poetry, The Homer Mitchell Place (1968), Signals From the Safety Coffin (1975), Blood Mountain (1977), Vivaldi in Early Fall (1981), a chapbook titled The Seasons in Vermont (1982), Weather-Fear: New and Selected Poems (1983), Cardinals in the Ice Age (1987), Walking to Cootehill (1993), Big Water (1995), Sinking Creek (1998), House and Garden (2001), Recounting the Seasons (2005). Individual poems have appeared in a wide variety of journals and magazines including The Nation, The New Yorker, Harper's, Commonweal, The New York Times, Sewanee, Nation, Chicago Review, and Quarterly Review of Literature. Engels earned his Master of Fine Arts degree in Creative Writing at the State University of Iowa in 1957 and a Bachelor of Arts degree in English from the University of Notre Dame. He was a professor of English at Saint Michael's College in Winooski, Vermont for 45 years. He died in 2007.


17.29 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Correspondence-often with important or semi-important figures in 20th century American, especially Vermont, poetry and literature (Carruth, Kinnell, Huddle); Writings, mostly poetry, at all stages of production: mss, typescripts, corrected versions, commented versions, proofs, and printed/sewn versions; some publicity; materials from St. Michaels classes.

Arrangement Note

Collection is unprocessed.


Library Research Annex

Guide to the John Engels Papers
Patricia J. Ferreira
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Code for undetermined script
Language of description note

Repository Details

Part of the University of Vermont Libraries, Special Collections Repository

Silver Special Collections Library
48 University Place, Room B201
Burlington Vermont 05405 U.S.A. US
(802) 656-2138
(802) 656-4038 (Fax)