Brodsky, whose world-class William Faulkner collection already belongs to Southeast, arranged for the gift of his poetry archives shortly before his death in June 2014. Delivery of the archives was delayed until the tasks of assembling the materials and readying storage space in the University’s Special Collections were completed.
In his lifetime, Brodsky authored 84 volumes of poetry, which include more than 13,000 individual poems. In addition to the books, his poems were published in Harper’s, Southern Review, Texas Quarterly, American Scholar, National Forum, Dalhousie Review, and many other journals and magazines. Five of his poetry volumes have been issued in French translation, and a selection of his nature poems has been published in Chinese. In 2004, his “You Can’t Go Back, Exactly” won the best book of poetry award from Michigan State University’s Center for Great Lakes Culture.
Brodsky’s last book, “The Words of My Mouth and the Meditations of My Heart,” a series of Psalm-like reflections which he wrote during his year-long journey living with terminal brain cancer, was published just days before his death.
The archives donated to Southeast includes books, handwritten and typed manuscripts, and correspondence and notes related to the poems.
Robert Hamblin, professor emeritus of English at Southeast, who collaborated with Brodsky for 36 years on his Faulkner collection, said, “L.D.’s poems represent one of the most comprehensive records of one person’s existence in all of literature. They can be read not only as poetry but as an index to what it was like to live in America’s Heartland over the span of an entire lifetime.”
Roxanne Dunn, head of Southeast’s Special Collections and Archives, added, “Being able to give researchers access to the poetry archives, in conjunction with the Louis Daniel Brodsky Collection of William Faulkner Materials that was previously acquired, will bring more context and understanding to the experience of studying both Faulkner and the life and works of L.D. Brodsky.”
A native of St. Louis, Brodsky attended St. Louis Country Day School. After graduating magna cum laude from Yale University in 1963, he received a Master of Arts in English from Washington University in 1967 and a Master of Arts in creative writing from San Francisco State University the following year.
From 1968 to 1987, writing poetry all the while, he assisted in managing a 350-person men’s-clothing factory in Farmington, Missouri, and started one of the Midwest’s first factory-outlet apparel chains, featuring seven stores in three states. From 1980 to 1991, he taught English and creative writing at Mineral Area College. From 1987 onward, he lived in St. Louis, devoting full time to his writing.
Brodsky’s Faulkner collection was acquired by Southeast Missouri State University in 1988. That acquisition became the basis for the creation of the school’s internationally renowned Center for Faulkner Studies.
The formal opening of the Louis Daniel Brodsky Poetry Archives is being planned for September. Jerry Call, Brodsky’s longtime editor, will be the keynote speaker for the event.