Lorin Cuoco, 1954-2019

It is with great sadness that we pause to note the death of Lorin Cuoco, a longtime advocate for literature and the arts, especially in the St. Louis area, who was also an accomplished editor, writer, poet, administrator, and interviewer. This recent article in the St. Louis Post-Dispatch contains a nice overview of her life and many activities in these areas.

Lorin Cuoco and William H. Gass promoting the “Writer and Religion” conference for the International Writers Center, in 1994

One could look at the collections in the Modern Literature Collection to get a sense of the reach of her influence as well. In addition to the Lorin Cuoco Papers, she made it possible for the Washington University Libraries to acquire the archives of the St. Louis Poetry Center and the International Writers Center, both of which she played major roles in, and the Arts in Transit Collection, which contains posters of poetry and other literary works with artwork that adorn bus stops and trains around the region. While co-directing the International Writers Center (IWC) in the 1990s, Lorin helped start this effort with Metro St. Louis, and it continues to this day.

Mock-up cover for Literary St. Louis: A Guide, a book Cuoco co-wrote with William Gass, from the International Writers Center Archive

The IWC, as the newspaper article relates, brought in world-renowned writers from across the globe to Washington University for readings and symposia, including future Nobel Laureates Derek Walcott, Mario Vargas Llosa, and J. M. Coetzee. The IWC also published books, such as Literary St. Louis: A Guide, and partnered with local organizations such as River Styx to help promote the rich past, present, and future of local literary talent. Lorin, as IWC co-director, was instrumental in making these events and publications happen, and her organizational skills and dedication to the long-term mission ensured that a rich archive was preserved and placed at Washington University Libraries.

Poster of photographs taken by Michael Eastman, from the International Writers Center Archive. Lorin is second from left with arms crossed.

Correspondence, readings, interviews, and other materials from or associated with Lorin can be found in many other collections as well:

William H. Gass Papers (MSS051), 1948-2015
River Styx Archive (MSS127), 1973-2001
Modern Literature Recorded Multimedia Collection (MSS124), 1932-2013
Howard Nemerov Papers (MSS089), 1939-1991
Jan Garden Castro Papers (MSS136), 1957-2014
Eric Pankey Papers (MSS092), 1984-1995
Stanley Elkin Papers (MSS039), 1943-2013
Steven Moore Collection of William Gaddis (MSS156), 1943-2014
Michael Castro Papers (MSS151), 1964-2014
William Gaddis Papers (MSS049), 1902-1998
Washington University Photographic Services Collection (WUA00059), 1850-2006

Lorin’s support of the Modern Literature Collection and the Washington University Libraries in general remained steadfast through the years. We will miss her participation in and attendance of our events celebrating the authors and collections here. She has left indelible marks on those collections, in ways almost too many to mention. Our hearts go out to her husband, John Fowler, and her immediate family and circle of friends who will miss her so deeply.


About the author

Joel is the curator of the Modern Literature Collection and manuscripts at Washington University Libraries.