Frank Stanford papers
Scope and Contents
The collection consists of material created and accumulated by Frank Stanford, as well as material created and accumulated after Stanford's death by C. D. Wright in her role as co-executor of his estate and as editor of Lost Roads Publishers. Included are Stanford's writings, which comprise manuscripts and drafts of poems and prose, some of which are C. D. Wright's copies, and notebooks; correspondence received by Stanford from editors, publishers, and writers; correspondence relating to Stanford and Lost Roads Publishers received by C. D. Wright; personal and press business records; a small amount of photographs; printed material; audiovisual and computer media; an inscribed knife; and a plumb bob. The material documents Stanford's work as a poet and publisher, his involvement in filmmaking, aspects of the initial operation of Lost Roads Publishers, and the posthumous publication, reception, and study of Stanford's work.
- 1958 - 2011
- Majority of material found within 1970 - 1993
Conditions Governing Access
The materials are open for research.
Box 8 (computer disks) and Box 9 (audiovisual material): Restricted fragile material. Reference copies of electronic files may be requested. Consult Access Services for further information.
Conditions Governing Use
The Frank Stanford Papers is the physical property of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library, Yale University. Literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. For further information, consult the appropriate curator.
Immediate Source of Acquisition
Gift of Forrest Gander and C. D. Wright, 2008, and purchased from C. D. Wright on the Alfred Z. Baker, Jr. Fund, 2012-2016.
Organized into four series: I. Correspondence and Other Papers. II. Writings and Other Papers. III. October 2012 Acquisition. IV. June 2016 Acquisition.
7.5 Linear Feet (13 boxes)
Language of Materials
A record for this collection is available in Orbis, the Yale University Library catalog
The collection consists of material created and accumulated by Frank Stanford, as well as material created and accumulated after Stanford's death by C. D. Wright in her role as co-executor of his estate and as editor of Lost Roads Publishers. Included are Stanford's writings, which comprise manuscripts and drafts of poems and prose, some of which are C. D. Wright's copies, and notebooks; correspondence received by Stanford from editors, publishers, and writers; correspondence relating to Stanford and Lost Roads Publishers received by C. D. Wright; personal and press business records; a small amount of photographs; printed material; an inscribed knife; and a plumb bob. The material documents Stanford's work as a poet and publisher, his involvement in filmmaking, aspects of the initial operation of Lost Roads Publishers, and the posthumous publication, reception, and study of Stanford's work.
Frank Stanford (1948-1978)
Frank Stanford was born in southeast Mississippi in 1948. In the following year he was adopted by Dorothy Gilbert, and in 1952 relocated to Arkansas when Gilbert married Albert Franklin Stanford. Remembered as a bright and athletic child in his early youth, the young Frank Stanford was greatly affected by the knowledge of his adoption. He entered the University of Arkansas in 1967 as a student of Civil Engineering, but later on switched to study literature, and was well known in the Fayetteville literary community for his poetry. He wrote poems for the student literary magazine, Preview, and many of the early poems following his college years were published in journals such as Field, Ironwood, and American Poetry Review.
Stanford left college without earning a degree. In 1970 he met Irving Broughton, editor and publisher of Mill Mountain Press, who published Stanford's first book, The Singing Knives. Between 1970-76, Mill Mountain published five more of Stanford's books. Also in the early 70s, Broughton and Stanford made a documentary film about Stanford's work and life. The film, It Wasn’t a Dream it Was a Flood, won the Best Experimental Film Award at the West Coast Film Festival in 1975. The following year saw the birth of Stanford's own publishing company, Lost Roads Publishers. Lost Roads sought to "reclaim the landscape of American poetry" by publishing little known authors, whom the poet C.D. Wright, succeeding Stanford as editor, called the "the beautiful wild poets we grow from the road." In 1977, Lost Roads Publishers and Mill Mountain Press joint-published Stanford's epic poem, The Battlefield Where the Moon Says I Love You, a manuscript of over 15,000 lines of poetry that Stanford had been working on sporadically since his early teenage years.
Stanford was well aware of the unique sensitivity that marked him apart from others even in childhood. "When the rest of you / Were being children / I became a monk / To my own listening / Imagination." Elsewhere, Stanford speaks of Death, which he imagines as a fisherman in a boat: "Young as I am I / Hold light for this boat." Amongst Stanford's most powerful poems are his reflections on this shadow from which none return. Franz Wright called him "one of the great voices of Death." With uncanny insight and beauty, Stanford's poems often seek to portray and imagine Death, which was, in Wright's words, "his biggest love affair."
On June 3 1978, at the age of 29, Stanford took his own life in his home in Fayetteville, Arkansas. His chapbook Crib Death came out shortly afterwards. Lost Roads published more of his poems in You in 1979, and a collection of his short fiction Conditions Uncertain And Likely To Pass Away in 1990. The following year the University of Arkansas Press published The Light the Dead See: Selected Poems of Frank Stanford.
Biographical note prepared by Shu-Han Luo, Yale College '09.
This collection received a basic level of processing, including rehousing and organization. Descriptive information is drawn in large part from information supplied with the collection and from an initial survey of the contents. Folder titles appearing in the contents list below are often based on those provided by the creator or previous custodian. Titles have not been verified against the contents of the folders in all cases. Otherwise, folder titles are supplied by staff during initial processing.
- Guide to the Frank Stanford Papers
- by Jennifer Meehan and David Williams, Brooke McManus
- 2008. Revised: April 2023.
- Description rules
- Describing Archives: A Content Standard
- Language of description note
- Finding aid written in English.
Part of the Beinecke Rare Book and Manuscript Library Repository
P. O. Box 208330
New Haven CT 06520-8330 US
121 Wall Street
New Haven, CT 06511
The Beinecke Library is open to all Yale University students and faculty, and visiting researchers whose work requires use of its special collections. You will need to bring appropriate photo ID the first time you register. Beinecke is a non-circulating, closed stack library. Paging is done by library staff during business hours. You can request collection material online at least two business days in advance of your visit, using the request links in Archives at Yale. For more information, please see Planning Your Research Visit and consult the Reading Room Policies prior to visiting the library.