A valued addition to the history of the Fort Worth poetry scene has recently been made accessible at TCU. The Special Collections department of the library has acquired the papers of Mabel M. Kuykendall and they are now available to research or peruse. Ms. Kuykendall was a local poet as well as an advocate for other poets. The Poetry Society of Texas was the first to publish one of her poems. She co-edited the anthologies, Poetry out Where the West Begins: A Collection of Poems by Fort Worth Authors (1949) and Divert the Interim (1940), with her long-time friend and fellow poet Grace Ross. Together, she and Grace published and edited Quicksilver, a quarterly poetry magazine, for nearly 15 years in Fort Worth, TX.
Ms. Kuykendall served as the president of the Fort Worth Poetry Society for about five years in the late 1940’s. She was also the head of the Fort Worth chapter of the Texas Council for the Promotion of Poetry during which time she petitioned the mayor of Fort Worth for a signed proclamation to recognize an official day of poetry. She promoted poetry on the radio as well, spending four years broadcasting the programs “Local Color” and “The Poet’s Tabloid” on Fort Worth’s KFJZ. In 1961, Mabel and her husband James moved to Taos, New Mexico where she wrote a weekly column in The Taos News, called “Adobe Diggings,” for three years. Mabel died in Taos in 1994.
This collection is arranged in three series. The first series makes up the bulk of the collection and includes the materials related to Quicksilver, the quarterly poetry magazine published from 1948-1962 in Fort Worth, TX. The second series includes some of Ms. Kuykendall’s other work and the third series is comprised of various poetry and literary journals that Kuykendall collected over the years. It includes journals such as The Bard and The Buccaneer, both published in Dallas, TX in the early 1920’s as well as examples of 105 other journals produced in a myriad of cities and universities through 1976.
Entry by Amy Leslie
“Now, I like to do a little ritual at the beginning of every class. If you’ll forgive me, it only takes me about ten seconds. But you know we live in a world where all of us in this room take books for granted. We throw books on the floor, we throw books at people, we load them in and out of our backpacks, we drop them here and drop them there, we lose them, we rip them up, we write all over them — I write all over mine. It’s only a few generations ago when there really weren’t any bookstores to go to. Your great-great-grandparents couldn’t meander a bookstore, to speak of, unless they lived in a special section of a special city. Books are precious things. A lot of them are assigned in this course. There’s short ones, little ones, big ones, syntheses, novels, monographs. Think of a book, just for a moment, and then you can forget this if you want. But think of a book, any book. It’s hard to think of a really bad book this way, but think of a good book, one of your favorite books ever, as like a newborn child, a newborn child brought into the world. A book. Probably a lot more planning and thought and design and construction, at least intellectually, goes into that book than goes into most babies. Books have a cover. They have beginnings, middles and ends. They’re somebody’s dream, they’re somebody’s creation. They never satisfy — just like people — but they’re in some ways the greatest things we have, and sometimes it’s nice to remind ourselves of that, in the places where we take them most for granted.” - Professor David Blight, Professor of History, Yale University
Special Collections staff have been very busy. There are two new exhibits now available for your perusal and edification. The first curated and realized by Susan Swain may be seen in the exhibit cases located in the library lobby adjacent to Bistro Burnett. The exhibit examines the history of KTCU-FM, the campus radio station. Please come and take a look at this excellent exhibit about the early days of 88.7, “The Choice.” While you’re at it take a look at the article in The TCU Magazine about Luther Adkins, “the founder of KTCU.”
The other new exhibit is available online and was conceived and realized by Amy Leslie which highlights a selection of the newly-scanned letters and other manuscripts contained in the William Luther Lewis collection of British and American literature. As well as the selection of items, there is a link from the exhibit which takes one to the site where all of the manuscripts may be found. Check out this very attractive web exhibit.
You’ve read Amy Leslie’s article about them in the newsletter of the Friends of the TCU Library and the TCU Magazine, now see all of the scrapbooks she wrote about. Click here.