CAPE GIRARDEAU, Mo., March 5, 2007 — A signed typescript of an unpublished poem by famous American poet William Carlos Williams has been donated to Southeast Missouri State University.
The story of the origin, history, and gift of the poem, entitled “About a Little Girl,” will be told by Michael Lund, at 7 p.m., Monday, March 12, in Sadie’s Place in Kent Library. He and his brother Carl Lund are the donors of the manuscript, which has been in their family for three generations.
The title of Lund’s remarks is “Our Literary Ancestors: The Untold Story of an Unpublished William Carlos Williams Poem and Its Gift to Southeast.”
Williams, who was also a family doctor, presented the poem to the mother of a little girl who was thought to be dying of leukemia. However, she survived, and her sons eventually inherited the poem.
The public is invited to Lund’s presentation on the story of the poem. Admission is free.
Michael Lund, who is professor of English at Longwood University in Farmville, Va., and Carl, a resident of Albuquerque, N.M., grew up in Rolla, Mo. Michael is the author of seven Missouri Route 66 novels about life in America’s Heartland. All of the novels are published by BeachHouse Books.
Also a recognized authority on British and American serial fiction, Lund has published three scholarly books and a number of journal articles on the genre.
The Lund brothers recently visited the Southeast campus at the invitation of Longwood friend and colleague William Frank, who is a Southeast visiting professor this year in the Department of English. While on campus they toured the university’s Center for Faulkner Studies and were shown the Louis Daniel Brodsky Collection of William Faulkner materials. Following that visit they contacted Robert Hamblin, the director of the Faulkner Center, about possibly donating the Williams poem to the University.
As Professor Lund explained, “When Bob Hamblin gave my brother and me a tour of Southeast’s Faulkner Center last fall, he put in our hands a book inscribed by Albert Einstein to William Faulkner. I was struck at that moment by the degree to which this University values books, literature, and learning. Because our mother, who is the subject of the Williams poem, lived for more than 50 years in Rolla, it also seemed appropriate that the manuscript find a home in Missouri.”
There is a little-known link between Faulkner and Williams, Hamblin noted.
“The two men served together in 1956 on the Writers’ Committee appointed by President Dwight D. Eisenhower to help develop the People-to-People Program,” Hamblin said.
Williams, a Pulitzer Prize winner, was born in Rutherford, N.J., in 1883, and spent most of his life there. He died in 1963. His epic work is Paterson, a multi-volume series of poems that employ innovative poetic techniques to describe the ordinary lives of working class Americans.