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Toby Olson letters to Carl Thayler collection


Held at: University of Delaware Library Special Collections [Contact Us]181 South College Avenue, Newark, DE 19717-5267

This is a finding aid. It is a description of archival material held at the University of Delaware Library Special Collections. Unless otherwise noted, the materials described below are physically available in their reading room, and not digitally available through the web.

Overview and metadata sections

American poet and Temple University professor, Toby Olson, was born August 17, 1937, in Berwyn, Illinois.

His name at birth was Merle Theodore Olson. He was educated at Occidental College, receiving a B.A. in 1965, and at Long Island University, receiving an M.A. in 1967.

He has served on the faculties of Long Island University, Brooklyn, New York (1966–1974); the Friends Seminary, New York (1974–1975); the New School for Social Research, New York (1967–1975); Aspen Writer's Workshop, Aspen, Colorado (1964–1967); and Temple University, Philadelphia (1975– ).

His writing includes books of poetry, novels, articles, reviews, and short stories. His novels include

The Life of Jesus (1976), Seaview (1982), Utah (1987), and Dorit in Lebos (1990). Seaview received the PEN Faulkner Award in 1983.

Olson's books of poetry include

The Hawk-Foot Poems (1968), Maps (1969), Worms Into Nails (1969), The Brand (1969), Pig's Book (1969), Vectors (1972), Fishing (1974), The Wrestlers and Other Poems (1974), City (1974), Changing Appearance: Poems 1965-1970 (1975), Home (1976), Four Poems (1976), Three and One (1976), Doctor Miriam (1977), The Florence Poems (1978), Aesthetics (1978), Birdsongs (1980), Two Standards (1982), and We Are the Fire (1984).

American poet, Carl Thayler, was born on April 29, 1933, in Los Angeles, California.

Thayler was educated at Kenyon College, where he received his B.A. in 1968. He pursued graduate study at the University of Wisconsin from 1968–1972. While in Wisconsin he also participated in the Wisconsin Poetry-in-the-Schools program.

His writing includes several published books of poetry and a play titled "Grail." His books of poetry include

The Drivers (1969), Some Ground (1970), The Mariposa Suite (1971), The Providings: Poems, 1963-1971 (1971), and Goodrich and the Haggard Ode and the Disfiguration (1972).

This collection consists of 119 letters from American poet and Temple University professor, Toby Olson, to the poet Carl Thayler. Dating from 1967 to 1983, these detailed letters treat a variety of literary and personal matters and reveal the close friendship shared by Olson and Thayler.

Seven of the letters include drafts of poems which Olson sent to Thayler for his comments. The poems include "Wood Song," "Antonio Rocca," "Brother Moon," "Gorgeous George," "Waltz," "The Contract," "Aesthetic #1," and "Aesthetic-8." Also discussed are Olson's books in progress, including his novels

The Life of Jesus and Seaview. Books of poetry mentioned are Maps, Pig's Book, Worms Into Nails, The Florence Poems, Aesthetics, and Birdsongs.

In these letters Olson critiques poems written by Thayler, as well as other writing which Thayler sent to him. Thayler's

Goodrich (1972), for which Olson wrote the introduction, is also discussed. Olson also comments on the work of Gilbert Sorrentino, Robert Creeley, Paul Blackburn, Avery Corman, Gregory Corso, Diane Wakoski, Denise Levertov, and others.

These letters provide insight into Olson's academic career at Long Island University, Temple University, and at the New School for Social Research in New York City. The letters also provide details of his summers at North Truro, Massachusetts, and of his interactions with various publishers about his poetry and novels.

The correspondence is arranged chronologically, with two folders of undated letters filed at the end.

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscript boxes (1 inch)

Purchase, 1988.

Processed by Anita A. Wellner, July 1992. Encoded by Thomas Pulhamus, March 2010. Further encoding by Lauren Connolly, November 2015.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2010 March 5
Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

Use of materials from this collection beyond the exceptions provided for in the Fair Use and Educational Use clauses of the U.S. Copyright Law may violate federal law. Permission to publish or reproduce is required from the copyright holder. Please contact Special Collections, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

Letters, 1967-1969.
Folder F1
Scope and Contents

Include one poem titled "Wood Song."

Physical Description

18 items (18 leaves) 20 pp.

Letters, 1970-1971.
Folder F2
Scope and Contents

Includes two poems titled "The Contract" and "Waltz."

Physical Description

20 items (20 leaves) 24 pp.

Letters, 1972-1973.
Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Includes one poem titled "Aesthetics #1." The postcard bears a poem by Karl Young titled "Ecosystems" (printed by Membrane Press).

Physical Description

19 items (19 leaves) 20 pp.

Letters, 1974-1979.
Folder F4
Scope and Contents

Includes two poems, "Brother Moon" and "Aesthetics-8." The two postcards have printed poems on the verso. One poem is George Economou's, "The Se[er]", and the other is an untitled poem by Charles Doria (both are printed by Membrane Press)

Physical Description

19 items (20 leaves) 20 pp.

Letters, 1980-1983.
Folder F5
Physical Description

10 items (10 leaves) 10 pp.

Letters, undated.
Folder F6
Letters, undated.
Folder F7
Scope and Contents

Includes the poems "Antonio Rocca" and "Gorgeous George."

Physical Description

17 items (17 leaves) 19 pp.

Print, Suggest