It was not the year we anticipated, hoped for, or a year we would want to repeat. The first rumblings of the COVID-19 pandemic began in early 2020, escalated in February, and eventually erupted in our community in March when the Center closed its doors to in-person visits and staff began working remotely. What happened next was a natural shift to expanding the Center’s online presence throughout the year. [Read more…] about Highlights from an unprecedented year
by VANESSA GUIGNERY
In the fall of 2001, I was in Normandy with author Julian Barnes to take part in an event around his most successful novel, Flaubert’s Parrot (1984), when he told me with a wry smile that I would soon be going to Austin, Texas. As I looked at him quizzically, he explained that he had decided to place his archive at the Harry Ransom Center. At that time, I had completed my doctoral thesis on “Postmodernism and modes of blurring in Julian Barnes’s fiction” at the University of La Sorbonne in Paris and published books and articles of literary analysis of Barnes’s work, but I had never examined a writer’s archive and I had never been to the United States. [Read more…] about Inspiration and insight in the papers of author Julian Barnes
by VANESSA GUIGNERY
The following is excerpted from the book, Julian Barnes From the Margins: Exploring the Writer’s Archive (Bloomsbury Academic, 2020), by author Vanessa Guignery. [Read more…] about EXCERPT: Julian Barnes From the Margins: Exploring the Writer’s Archives
by DANIEL ARBINO
This essay is part of a slow research series, What is Research? Learn about the series and click here to add your voice to the conversation.
[Read more…] about The passion to push the paradigm
Billy Collins is one of the most widely read poets in America, and his witty, conversational poems illuminate the poignant details that often go unnoticed in everyday life. Within his archive at the Ransom Center are notebooks, drafts, proofs, and other documents relating to his poetry, essays, and other published works. His archive includes travel diaries, datebooks, sketchbooks and drawings, childhood writings, teaching materials, correspondence, and other materials that document his life ad career.
On Dec. 3, 2020, tune in to hear this celebrated poet read from his new collection, Whale Day (Penguin Random House, 2020), followed by a discussion with Ransom Center Director Stephen Enniss. U.S. Poet Laureate from 2001 to 2003, Collins is the author of 12 collections of poetry, including The Rain in Portugal, Aimless Love, Horoscopes for the Dead, Ballistics, The Trouble with Poetry, Nine Horses, and Sailing Alone Around the Room, among others. His new collection brings together more than 50 poems that highlight his deft mixing of the playful and the serious. Collins has said, “It is a good idea to get poetry off the shelves and into public life, ” and his “Poetry Broadcasts” on social media have infused poetry into the daily life of many during the COVID-19 pandemic, exemplifying the accessibility of his poetry. Please RSVP here for he program that will stream live on Facebook and YouTube.
—Poem excerpted from Whale Day and Other Poems (Penguin Random House, 2020) © Billy Collins.
We often fly in the sky together,
and we’re always okay—there’s our luggage now
waiting for us on the carousel.
And we drive lots of places
in all manner of hectic traffic,
yet here we are pulling in the driveway again.
So many opportunities to die together,
but no meteor has hit our house,
no tornado has lifted us into its funnel.
The odds say then that one of us will go
before the other, like heading off
into a heavy snow storm, leaving
the other one behind to stand in the kitchen
or lie on the bed under the fan.
So why not let me, the older one, go first?
I don’t want to see you everywhere
as I wait for the snow to stop,
before setting out with a crooked stick, calling your name.
© Billy Collins
by JAMES MAGNUSON
The following is excerpted from the book, Famous Writers I Have Known (W. W. Norton & Company, 2014), by author James Magnuson.
A small time con-man is posing as a famously reclusive writer named V. S. Mohle. He manages to get hired by a well-funded graduate writing program at a large university in Texas. Sound familiar? He has never written anything or been in a college classroom. Here’s what happens when he teaches his first class: [Read more…] about EXCERPT: Famous Writers I Have Known by James Magnuson