Paul Violi Archive
The Paul Violi archive offers the opportunity to explore the life and work of poet and small press publisher Paul Violi. It is particularly strong in its illumination of the poet's creative process, especially as viewed through the lens of his unique relationship with fellow poets Tony Towle and Charles North.
One tour-de-force after another, each with an impressive sureness of touch...No poet writing today has a greater breadth of sensibility than Violi, or expresses it in a greater range of styles, or uses more of the devices that poetry has to offer. His poems inspire the feelings of excitement about life that is, still, the ultimate function of art.
I picked Violi because of the virtues I have admired all these years: his wit, his ability to find the poetic resonance of non-poetic language, his deadpan, and his ability to get serious ideas across without didactic earnestness. He is, in my view, among our most talented poets.
The best satirical mind in contemporary poetry belongs to Paul Violi.
Brief Biography of Paul Violi
Paul Violi was born on July 20, 1944 in Brooklyn, New York and grew up in Greenlawn, Long Island. He spent time at St. Mark's Poetry project and was an active part of the New York poetry world. Violi was the Poetry Project’s interim Director (1977) and also served on its advisory board (1978–1981).
In spring 1970, he took a workshop at the Poetry Project with Tony Towle where he also met Charles North. The three developed a unique, supportive and creative relationship that lasted until Violi’s death in 2011.
He co-founded, with Allen Appel, Swollen Magpie Press in 1970. The two published Violi's She'll Be Riding Six White Horses and Automatic Transmissions, and a novella by Philip Lopate. Appel and Violi also published the poetry magazine New York Times (1970–1973) that included work by Jim Brodey, Dick Gallup, Charles North, Ron Padgett, Carter Ratcliff, Peter Schjeldahl, Tony Towle and Bill Zavatsky. Appel eventually left the press and Charles North joined Paul in partnership. Between 1976 and 1982 they published books of poetry by Tony Towle, Joseph Ceravolo, Mary Ferrari, Martha LaBare and Yuki Hartman, as well as by North and Violi. In 1979 the press published Lita Hornick's book about David Antin and also produced Broadway: A Poets and Painters Anthology edited by James Schuyler and Charles North.
From 1974 to 1983 Violi coordinated a series of readings at the Museum of Modern Art and in 1993 curated the exhibit "Kenneth Koch: Collaborations with Artists" for Christchurch Mansion, Ipswich, U.K.
Paul Violi published over a dozen collections of poetry, including Overnight (Hanging Loose, 2007), Fracas (Hanging Loose, 1999), Breakers (Coffee House, 2000), Likewise (Hanging Loose, 1988), The Curious Builder (Hanging Loose, 1993), In Baltic Circle (Kulchur Foundation, 1973 and 2011 reissue) and Splurge (Sun, 1982), as well as the prose work Selected Accidents, Pointless Anecdotes (Hanging Loose, 2002). His 5 artist book collaborations with Dale Devereux Barker, include Envoy: Life is Completely Interesting (2002), and Gris-Gris (2002).
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Summary of the Paul Violi Archive
Correspondence with many manuscripts and other items from friends, colleagues and publishers, including, Bruce Andrews, Allan Appel, Paul Auster, Ted Berrigan, Jim Brodey, Billy Collins, Bill Corbett, Ray DiPalma, Kenward Elmslie, Barbara Guest, Susan Howe, Larry Fagin, Buckminster Fuller, Dick Gallup, John Godfrey, Robert Hershon, Lita Hornick, Kenneth Koch, Michael Lally, David Lehman, Ron Padgett, David Rattray, Peter Schjeldahl, Gilbert Sorrentino, Anne Waldman, and Barry Yourgrau. Correspondence is particularly extensive with Allan Kornblum, Dale Devereux Barker, Charles North, Tony Towle, and Bill Zavatsky. In addition to traditional paper-based letters there are over 3,000 email messages received through 2011. Approx. 10 ½ linear feet.
Journals and Notebooks
There are 83 journals and notebooks filled with poetry and ruminations about being a father, husband and poet from circa 1965 until several months before his death in 2011. Approx. 4 ½ linear feet.
Violi’s life as both a published poet and a small press publisher (Swollen Magpie Press) are documented with correspondence and ephemera. Included are manuscripts and layouts from several issues of New York Times, 1970–1973, published by Swollen Magpie Press. Approx. 2 1/2 linear feet.
There are manuscripts and multiple drafts of both published and unpublished works by Paul Violi, many with notes and corrections. Manuscripts that were exchanged with Charles North and Tony Towle (with their notes and corrections) are found in the Correspondence series. Approx. 5 ½ linear feet.
Publications by Paul Violi
Included are 20 books, broadsides and pamphlets by Paul Violi, 5 limited edition collaborations with Dale Devereux Barker, approx. 200 little magazines with contributions by Violi, and approx. 40 anthologies with contributions from Violi.
The poetry flyers and posters collected by Paul Violi constitute a major collection of rarely seen New York poetry world ephemera. There are approx. 140 flyers of various sizes, approx. 8 ½ x 11 inches, approx. 25 folded flyers of various sizes, approx. 10 x 16 inches, approx. 30 cards, and approx. 20 posters of various sizes, approx. 13 x 19 inches.
Assorted Other Items
Other items include VHS recordings documenting readings, photographs of Violi, family and friends, and correspondence from Violi to his family while he was in Nigeria as part of the Peace Corps, 1966–1967 (his long poem Harmatan, published by Sun Press in 1977, is about his experiences in Nigeria).
The archive comprises approximately 38 linear feet (29 boxes, plus oversize) and is housed at Granary Books.