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Larry Kearney papers


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

Larry Kearney (born 1943) is an American poet and author who has published numerous poetry collections, prose, and nonfiction works. Kearney is associated with a circle of San Francisco poets and writers he befriended in the 1960s that included Jack Spicer, Robert Duncan, Joanne Kyger, and Richard Brautigan.

Kearney was born in Brooklyn, New York, in 1943. He attended Brooklyn Technical High School and Harpur College. While in New York, Kearney developed an interest in poets centered in North Beach, San Francisco, especially Jack Spicer and Robert Duncan. Kearney moved to San Francisco in 1964 and connected with Spicer, Duncan, Joanne Kyger, and Richard Brautigan, among others.

Kearney began publishing poems in the privately-printed

Open Space magazine, a free publication that circulated in the San Francisco poetry community. He published his first book, Fifteen Poems, in 1964 under the White Rabbit Press imprint which was largely devoted to publishing works by writers in Spicer's circle. Kearney's early published prose writing includes the children's book Only a Little Planet (1970) and the novel Five (1972). Around 1976, Kearney began publishing under the name Larry Kearney to avoid confusion with poet Lawrence Kearney (born 1948).

Kearney wrote

Streaming, a book of lyric poetry, in 1987 and collaborated with Jack Erdmann to write the memoirs Whiskey's Children (1997) and A Bar on Every Corner (2001). In addition to White Rabbit, Kearney has published through his own press, Worm in the Rain Publications, as well as Smithereens Press, Spuyten Duyvil, Listening Chamber, and others. He has produced over twelve books of poetry and has written numerous unpublished works including screenplays and noir novels under the pseudonym Ben Gunn.

Kearney has read and lectured at various institutions including The Poetry Project at St. Marks Church (New York), The Kootenay Writing Society (Vancouver), Intersection (San Francisco), the New College of California (San Francisco), San Francisco State University, and the University of San Francisco.

Spuyten Duyvil| Fish Gotta Swim. Accessed December 3, 2021. Ellingham, Lewis, and Kevin Killian. "Ducks for grownups: Jack Spicer, Larry Kearney, Jamie MacInnis 1964." Chicago Review, vol. 43, no. 4, 1997.

The Larry Kearney papers comprise the author's typescript and manuscript drafts of poems, playscripts, prose, and autobiographical works, both published and unpublished. The collection also includes letters and postcards to Kearney and a small amount of his personal items and ephemera. The collection is arranged into two series, I. Writing projects and II. Personal.

Series I., Writing projects, comprises Kearney's typescript and manuscript drafts of poems, plays, prose, and nonfiction works, arranged alphabetically by title. Included are partial typescripts for the novels

Hearts Like Smoke and Martha that Kearney wrote under the pseudonym Ben Gunn. The series contains a draft of Kearney's Lost in the Stars playscript as well as a playscript for Whiskey's Children, adapted from his memoir written in collaboration with Jack Erdmann. Also included are typescript drafts of Kearney's "Burned Poems," poems printed on paper intentionally burned around the edges.

In addition to his writing drafts, the series contains galley proofs for

Earthquake and Everything Goes but the Poem, as well as 1962 and 1964 editions of Clarendon, Harpur College's literary magazine, that include Kearney's early poems.

Series II., Personal, comprises letters and postcards sent to Kearney from his friends and acquaintances. Notable correspondents include Terry Bell, an artist/illustrator that worked with Kearney, and poets/writers Bill Berkson, Lucia Berlin, Tom Clark, Robert Creeley, Richard Duerden, Leslie Scalapino, and John Thorpe. The series also includes a notebook of Kearney's, one photograph of poet Joanne Kyger and writer John Thorpe, and a piece of event ephemera related to a poetry reading by Kearney and poet Leslie Scalapino.

Box 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons

Box 2: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons

Box 3: Shelved in SPEC MSS record center cartons (6 inches)

Box 4: Shelved in SPEC MSS manuscripts boxes (1 inch)

Oversize folder 1: Shelved in SPEC MSS oversize mapcases

The text of this webpage is available for modification and reuse under the terms of the Creative Commons Attribution 4.0 International License. (

Gift, Peter B. Howard, 2010. Purchase, 2008, 2016.

Processed and encoded by Dustin Frohlich, September-December, 2021.

University of Delaware Library Special Collections
Finding Aid Author
University of Delaware Library, Special Collections
Finding Aid Date
2021 December 12
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 Department, University of Delaware Library,

Collection Inventory

All the Things You Were, In Form of Ballad, 1976-1978.
Box 1 Folder F1
Beetlebomb, circa 2010.
Box 1 Folder F2-F5
Being Sober, circa 1981.
Box 1 Folder F6
Carnival of the Animals, undated.
Box 1 Folder F7
Coming Home, 2002.
Box 1 Folder F8
Earthquake galley proofs, undated.
Oversize Folder 1
Everything Goes but the Poem galley proofs, 2010.
Box 1 Folder F9
Scope and Contents

Listening Chamber, 2010.

Fatality, circa 2012.
Box 1 Folder F10-F12
Scope and Contents

Independently published, 2012.

Fireball Machine, 1986.
Box 1 Folder F13
Fish Gotta Swim, circa 2010.
Box 1 Folder F14
Scope and Contents

Spuyten Duyvil Publishing, 2015.

Five, circa 1972.
Box 1 Folder F15
Hearts Like Smoke, circa 2010.
Box 1 Folder F16-F17
Lost in the Stars playscript, undated.
Box 1 Folder F18
Martha, 1999.
Box 1 Folder F19
Mood Bloody Indigo, undated.
Box 2 Folder F1
Moonfleet, 1972.
Box 2 Folder F2
Movies, circa 2008.
Box 2 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Worm in the Rain Publications, 2008

Nadine, undated.
Box 2 Folder F4
Ohzwazho, circa 1986.
Box 2 Folder F5
Oz and Damaged Architecture, 1986.
Box 2 Folder F6
Scope and Contents

Smithereens Press, 1986.

Pale Horse, Last Race, undated.
Box 2 Folder F7
Passion, circa 1998.
Box 2 Folder F8
Scope and Contents

Transmission Press, 2006.

"Poems" in Clarendon, vol. XIV, no. 1, 1962.
Box 2 Folder F9
"Poems" in Clarendon, vol. XV, no. 2, 1964.
Box 2 Folder F10
Power and Misery, circa 2010.
Box 2 Folder F11
Scope and Contents

Spuyten Duyvil Publishing, 2020.

Radio, 2001.
Box 2 Folder F12
Scope and Contents

Worm in the Rain Publications, circa 2001.

Red Light, Green Light, Statue, 2003.
Box 2 Folder 13
Sappho/Tarot, 1968.
Box 2 Folder F14
Seventeen Poems for Susan and Lawrence, circa 2000.
Box 2 Folder F15
Scope and Contents

Worm in the Rain Publications, circa 2000.

Sleepwalk, circa 1987.
Box 2 Folder F16
Stories, undated.
Box 2 Folder F17
Streaming, circa 1984.
Box 2 Folder F18
Scope and Contents

Trike, 1988.

That's My Weakness Now, undated.
Box 2 Folder F19
The First Year Sober (with Jack Erdmann), circa 1990.
Box 2 Folder F20
The Grass on the Hill, undated.
Box 2 Folder F21
The Pearl, circa 1999-2003.
Box 2 Folder F22
Scope and Contents

Worm in the Rain Publications, circa 1999.

The Rose Garden Game, 2000.
Box 2 Folder F23
The Toonerville Trolley, 2001.
Box 2 Folder F24
The Walk From The Movies, Late Street, undated.
Box 2 Folder F25
There You Go, There You Go, 1990.
Box 2 Folder F26-F27
Whiskey's Children, circa 1994.
Box 2 Folder F28
Worm in the Rain, undated.
Box 2 Folder F29
Untitled "A-B-C poetry", undated.
Box 2 Folder F30
Untitled prose work, undated.
Box 2 Folder F31-F33
Various poem drafts--"Burned Poems", circa 1965-1978.
Box 3 Folder F1-F3
Various poem drafts, circa 1964-2000.
Box 3 Folder F4-F5
Various poem drafts, undated.
Box 3 Folder F6-F10

Letters to Kearney, circa 1981-1988.
Box 4 Folder F1
Notebook, circa 2000.
Box 4 Folder F2
Leslie Scalapino / Larry Kearney event ephemera, 2005.
Box 4 Folder F3
Scope and Contents

Scalapino's reading script from poems in her collection,

The Forest is in the Euphrates River.
Photograph of Joanne Kyger and John Thorpe, circa 1970.
Box 4 Folder F4

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