Guide to the Lewis Turco Papers

Collection Overview

Date Span: 1957 -
Creator: Turco, Lewis (1934-)
Extent: 32.50 linear feet.
Collection Number: MSC0537
Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Summary: Papers of the twentieth century poet and teacher. Includes manuscripts of poems, books, essays, book reviews, plays, short stories, and correspondence and bibliographies.

Administrative Information

Alternate Extent Statement: Photographs: Boxes 2, 15, 18; Audiocassettes: Series 4, Boxes 1-6.

Access: This collection is open for research.

Use: Copyright restrictions may apply; please consult Special Collections staff for further information.

Acquisition: This collection was donated to the University of Iowa by Mr. Turco in 2001, with addendae arriving periodically after that.

Preferred Citation: Lewis Turco Papers, The University of Iowa Libraries, Iowa City, Iowa.

Repository: University of Iowa Special Collections
Address: Special Collections Department
University of Iowa Libraries
Iowa City, IA 52242
Phone: 319-335-5921
Curator: Greg Prickman

Biographical Note

Lewis Turco was born in Buffalo, New York on May 2, 1934. He received his BA from the University of Connecticut in 1959 and his MA from the University of Iowa in 1962. He taught at Fenn College (later Cleveland State University) where he founded the Cleveland Poetry Center, of which he was the director until 1964. He then served as Assistant Professor at Hillsdale College in 1964-65. From 1965 until 1996, he taught at SUNY-Oswego, where he was also Poet-in-Residence from 1995 until his retirement in 1996. At SUNY-Oswego he founded and directed the Program in the Writing Arts.

Turco began his publishing career in 1960, with the publication of First Poems. Sometimes using the pseudonym Wesli Court (an anagram of Lewis Turco), he has continued to publish poetry, books about poetry, such as the New Book of Forms and Visions and Revisions of American Poetry, and other works related to the writing arts. He has collaborated with other artists on such projects as While the Spider Slept, a ballet based upon his poem November 22, 1963, performed by the Swedish Ballet and the Royal Winnipeg Ballet; The Fog, a chamber opera with Dutch composer Walter Hekster; and Bordello: PoemPrints with printmaker George O'Connell.

He has received many awards, among them the Distinguished Alumnus Award from the Alumni Association of the University of Connecticut, the Bordighera Poetry Prize, an honorary Doctor of Humane Letters degree from Ashland University, and the John Ciardi Award for Lifetime Achievement in Poetry. He is now retired from University teaching and from operating an antiquarian bookshop in Maine.

Mr. Turco can be reached at e-mail

His blog is

See: Klebba, Caryn E. Ed. Directory of American Scholars. Detroit: Gale Group, 2002. Vol. II, p. 511.

Content Description

Included in this collection are many handwritten copies of Turco's poetry, plays, short stories and essays; extensive correspondence with other writers (some of these are photocopies); correspondence with publishers, agents, and periodicals; general correspondence; drafts and proofs of his books; some files from his years of teaching at colleges and universities, including some from Cleveland Poetry Center. Of particular interest is the Palmer Institute of Authorship instruction book and the accompanying assignment book. Also included is a collection of audiotapes of poetry readings, original recordings made at clubs and public poetry readings. Conrad Aiken, Marianne Moore, Robert Penn Warren, Mona van Duyn, Elizabeth Bishop, Howard Nemerov, Gwendolyn Brooks, and W. D. Snodgrass are only a few of the poets represented in this collection of over one hundred audiocasettes.

Related Materials

Items relating to the Cleveland Poetry Center are deposited at Cleveland State Univeristy. See the Lewis Turco Collection at Cleveland State.

The Lewis Turco and George O'Connell Christmas card collection at Smithsonian.

Interview (January 12, 2010) with Turco on Mike Chasar's Poetry and Popular Culture blog:

Detailed Description of the Collection

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This collection is indexed under the following subject terms.

English & American Literature
Writers Archive at Iowa
Novelists, Story Writers, & Poets