New Scholarship: Barbara Guest Papers

November 18, 2014

By Nancy Kuhl

Ella O’Keefe. 2014, ‘Notes from Another Clime’: Archive Surfing with Barbara Guest in Rabbit Poetry Journal, No 13, pp. 66-77 (ISBN: 978 0 987448385)

A personal essay on the experience of visiting the Barbara Guest papers and the pleasures and perils of archival research by Australian scholar Ella O’Keefe. Consideration is given to the time that Barbara Guest spent in the archives researching her biography of the poet H.D. along with discussion of Guest’s 1980 poem sequence ‘Biography’ published with Burning Deck Press. Archive material including early drafts of poems and recorded discussions are used to elaborate Guest’s composition methods. One particular focus is a series of collaborations Guest produced with abstract-expressionist painter Mary Abbott throughout the 1970s. The pair discuss their approach to collaboration in a recorded discussion which took place at Minnesota University in the mid 70s. This talk gives a valuable insight into how collaboration figured into a kind of process poetics and how Guest and Abbott’s creative partnership constitutes a feminist response to art and literary circles which were often dominated by men.

Image: Barbara Guest