Donald Finkel Papers 1947-1983
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Biographical / Historical Note

Donald Finkel, Poet-in-Residence at Washington University since 1960, has produced a sizable body of innovative poetry over the past two decades. He was born in New York and received both undergraduate and graduate degrees from Columbia University. Most of his teaching career has been at Washington University where he developed the Writers' Program with his wife, Constance Urdang, but he has also taught at the University of Iowa, Bard College, and Bennington College.

Finkel has written ten volumes of poetry, beginning with The Clothings' New Emperor (1959). His most recent volume, The Detachable Man, was published in 1985. Finkel's work has not received the extensive critical attention often given to the work of other authors; yet, what has been said about his poems is overwhelmingly positive. Finkel is a painstaking researcher and collector of information and his poems reflect this. They are grounded in a thorough understanding and appreciation of their subjects and often contain "found" texts.

Reflecting Finkel's unique place among American poets, his papers represent one of the more interesting groups in the Washington University manuscript collection. His extensive research materials, journals, notes, and heavily revised manuscripts comprise the bulk of the Finkel Papers. A large collection of editorial matter toward all of his books and a small, yet revealing professional correspondence with editors and literary colleagues completes the Finkel Collection.