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Walter Lowenfels Papers TAM 475

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive
Elmer Holmes Bobst Library
70 Washington Square South
10th Floor
New York, NY 10012
(212) 998-2630
tamiment.wagner@nyu.edu


Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archives

Collection processed by Tamiment staff

This finding aid was produced using ArchivesSpace on June 11, 2018

Descriptive Summary

Title: Walter Lowenfels Papers
Dates [inclusive]: circa 1942-circa 1977
Dates [bulk]: 1967-1977
Abstract: Walter Lowenfels (1897-1976), was an American poet, journalist, and member of the Communist Party USA. This collection includes correspondence, editorial and personal, including with prominent authors and poets; and poetry, notes, and other writings by Lowenfels.
Quantity: 1.5 Linear Feet (2 boxes)
Mixed Materials [Box]: 1-2
Call Phrase: TAM 475

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Historical/Biographical Note

Walter Lowenfels (1897-1976), born in New York City, was an American poet, writer and longtime member of the Communist Party. He began writing poetry following World War I and published his first collection, Episodes & Epistles, in 1925. In 1926 Lowenfels fled to Paris to write and to escape a career in the family business. In 1930 he and Michael Fraenkel founded the Carrefour Press and published the pamphlet  Anonymous: The Need for Anonymity, a manifesto in which they declared that anonymous publication was the only way to avoid artistic competition and alienation. A play by Lowenfels,  USA with Music, was published anonymously by Carrefour, but a plagiarism suit brought by Lowenfels against George Gershwin in 1932 forced Carrefour and Lowenfels to reveal the author's identity. Carrefour Press continued to publish, but identified the authors of its books.

Lowenfels wrote more than a dozen books of poetry and edited almost as many, most of which expressed his political beliefs in one way or another. Lowenfels was a member of the Communist Party for most of his life and his editorial work for the Daily Workerkept him from his own writing from the late 1930's until 1953, when he was arrested and convicted for conspiring to overthrow the U.S. government. The charges were based solely on his membership in the Communist Party and the conviction was overturned in a matter of weeks. Although Lowenfels was recognized as a poet in his own right throughout his life, from the late 1950's until his death in 1976, he was best known as the pre-eminent American anthologist of the avant-garde. Many of his collections of poetry reflect his commitment to Marxism and opposition to political repression. Among his political anthologies are  Where is Vietnam?(1967),  In The Time of Revolution(1969),  From the Belly of the Shark(1973), and  For Neruda, for Chile(1975). Lowenfels died in Tarrytown, New York in 1976.

Sources:

  • Derived from the guide to a collection of Walter Lowenfels' papers at Washington University, St. Louis. http://library.wustl.edu/units/spec/manuscripts/mlc/lowenfels

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Scope and Content Note

Contains correspondence, editorial and personal, including with prominent authors and poets (Margaret Atwood, Denise Levertov, Marge Piercy), Ronald Gross (apparently his agent); poetry, notes, and other writings by Lowenfels; poems, principally by others, relating to Pablo Neruda and the 1973 coup d'etat in Chile; a folder of Workers Party correspondence, 1941-1943, concerning the organizing of agricultural workers, including tenant farmers, particularly cotton farmers in Southeast Missouri (includes letters from Max Shachtman); a file of obituaries that contains a poem upon the death of William Faulkner; and four folders of loose material, principally correspondence and poetry and other writings.

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Access Points

Subject Names

  • Levertov, Denise, 1923-1997. -- |v Correspondence
  • Atwood, Margaret, 1939- -- |v Correspondence
  • Neruda, Pablo, 1904-1973.
  • Shachtman, Max, 1903-1972 -- |v Correspondence

Document Type

  • Correspondence.
  • Poems.

Subject Organizations

  • Workers Party (1940-1949) -- |v Correspondence

Subject Topics

  • Agricultural laborers -- Missouri.
  • Communists -- United States.
  • Poetry.
  • Poets, American -- 20th century.
  • Tenant farmers -- Missouri.
  • Cotton farmers -- Missouri.
  • Poetry -- Political aspects.
  • Trotskyism |z Missouri.

Subject Places

  • Chile |x History |y Coup d'etat, 1973.

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Administrative Information

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are open without restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Tamiment Library and Robert F. Wagner Labor Archive has no information about copyright ownership for this collection and is not authorized to grant permission to publish or reproduce materials from it. Materials in this collection, which were created in circa 1942-circa 1977, are expected to enter the public domain in 2097.

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Materials found in collection; provenance is unknown. The accession number associated with this collection is 2009.026.

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