Van Duyn & Thurston collaboration on display

When Jarvis Thurston and Mona Van Duyn married in 1943, a literary partnership of nearly unparalleled success — and quality — was formed.

Van Duyn received the National Book Award and was the first female U.S. poet laureate; Thurston, Ph.D., is professor emeritus of English and chaired that department from 1967-69. He retired in 1982.

Out of their relationship came the journal Perspective: A Quarterly of Literature, which they formed while teaching at the University of Louisville in 1947.

When the couple moved to St. Louis in 1950, the magazine moved with them — and continued publication for more than two decades, ending its run in 1975.

Perspective published creative and critical writing from many distinguished writers, as well as early work from such writers as William S. Merwin, Anthony Hecht, Douglas Woolf, Stanley Elkin, Donald Finkel, Constance Urdang and William H. Gass, Ph.D., now the David May Distinguished University Professor Emeritus in the Humanities and founder of the International Writers Center (now the Center for the Humanities), both in Arts & Sciences.

University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections is exhibiting correspondence related to Perspective in the Olin Library Ginkgo Reading Room.

The exhibition displays selected items of correspondence from the magazine’s editorial files over its nearly 30-year career, excerpted from the library’s Perspective archives.

Also on display is the text of a letter Van Duyn wrote to Chancellor Thomas H. Eliot about an editorial concern that summarizes the editorial policies, history and literary impact of the magazine.

These items will be on display through March 25.

A second exhibit, Mona Van Duyn, is in the library’s Level 1 Grand Staircase Lobby and includes selected papers.

It also will be on view through March 25.

In conjunction with the exhibits, University Libraries and the Department of English in Arts & Sciences will host “A Feast of Awareness: A Celebration of Mona Van Duyn” at 2:30 p.m. March 20 in the Women’s Building. The event is free and open to the public, but a reservation (935-8003) by March 17 is required.

This event will feature readings of Van Duyn’s work and remarks by friends, colleagues, former students and admirers, including J.D. McClatchy, poet and editor of The Yale Review. A reception will follow in Olin Library.

Van Duyn, who died in December, started writing poetry at age 5, earned a bachelor’s degree from Northern Iowa University in 1942 and a master’s from the University of Iowa in 1943.

She lectured in English in University College from 1950-1967. She later served as poetry consultant for the Olin Library Modern Literature Collection and as the Visiting Hurst Professor of English in 1987.

She also taught poetry workshops as a visiting professor in the English department’s master of fine arts Writing Program in 1983 and 1985.

Van Duyn produced nine volumes of poetry, including To See, To Take (1970), for which she won the National Book Award for Poetry in 1971.

She served as poet laureate from 1992-93. In April 1991, she won the Pulitzer Prize in poetry for her seventh book, Near Changes (1990).

The Academy of American Poets named her a fellow in 1980 and one of its 12 chancellors in 1985.

A member of the American Academy and Institute of Arts and Letters, she was elected to the American Academy of Arts and Sciences in 1996.

Thurston studied at the University of Utah and the University of California, Berkeley. He earned a doctorate in literature from the University of Iowa in 1946.

Thurston’s articles and short stories have appeared in literary magazines and anthologies; however, he is best known as an editor. In addition to editing Perspective, Thurston has edited several anthologies of short stories, principally for use in college classrooms.

For more information or questions about the exhibits, call the Department of Special Collections at 935-5495.