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John Engels Papers

Identifier: mss-291

Scope and Contents

The John Engels papers consists of correspondence, papers, manuscripts, writing fragments, publications, and ephemera that document the life of Vermont poet and professor, John Engels, beginning with his graduation from the University of Notre Dame in 1952.

The collection contains correspondence concerning Engels’ poetry and its publications, with letters sent to and from notable 20th century American literary figures including Hayden Carruth, David Huddle, Julia Alvarez, John Irving, Sharon Olds, Ted Hughes, and Louise Gluck; publishers; editors; fellowship and award committees such as the Guggenheim Foundation and the Pulitzer Prize Committee; literary councils; and family members. These letters illustrate stages of the writing process and discuss many of the themes found in his work, including fishing; family; travel to California, Mexico, Ireland, and Yugoslavia; and life in Vermont. Additionally, there are papers detailing Engels’ experience as a teacher of Poetry and English at St. Michael’s College, including administrative letters, teaching materials, student correspondence, and student work.

The collection also includes his book manuscripts; drafts; publishers' page proofs; published work in literary journals; and a significant amount of undated, unpublished work arranged alphabetically by title as well as drafts of poems later published in various books of poetry. Present also are notebooks, travel diaries and expense books, collage materials, drawings from Engels and his children, newspaper clippings, and photographs of Engels’ travel, family, and friends.

Multiple additions have been added to this collection since its original arrival at the University of Vermont that have impacted its scope and arrangement. Original processing notes and inventories from former processers are contained within the collection, detailing the collection’s custodial history.


  • 1952-1998



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.


13.75 Linear Feet (11 cartons)

Language of Materials



The John Engels papers document the life and work of Vermont poet and professor, John Engels, including hundreds of pieces of personal and professional correspondence, often with literary publications and notable figures in 20th century American poetry and literature like Hayden Carruth, David Huddle, Julia Alvarez, John Irving, Sharon Olds, Ted Hughes, and Louise Gluck. The collection also contains Engels’ writing at all stages of production; grant, fellowship, and residency papers; ephemera and correspondence pertaining to literary organizations; and papers detailing his forty-five year teaching career, the bulk of which was spent at St. Michael’s College.


Library Research Annex, contact for access.

Guide to the John Engels Papers
Patricia J. Ferreira
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description
Language of description note
Edition statement
Multiple additions to this collection have impacted its original scope and arrangement by processor Patricia J. Ferreira. Final processing was completed by Anna Libertin in April 2024. For more details on the collection’s custodial history, view original processing notes and inventories in the “Personal” series.

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)