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Papers of Poet Mary Jo Bang Now Available for Viewing and Research

The papers of acclaimed poet and WU faculty member Mary Jo Bang are now available for viewing and research in the Department of Special Collections: Mary Jo Bang Papers.

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Photo of Mary Jo Bang by Kellie Spano

Bang, a Missouri native, has taught in WU’s English Department since 2000. She is the author of seven poetry collections and a translation of Dante’s Inferno. Bang was awarded the National Book Critics Circle Award for her 2007 collection, Elegy, and is also the recipient of a Guggenheim Fellowship and a Berlin Prize. Her most recent collection, The Last Two Seconds, was released last year. Critic Marjorie Perloff has called Bang “one of the finest poets of her generation.”

The Libraries acquired Bang’s papers in 2014. They’re now part of the Modern Literature Collection (MLC), an archive of materials from notable 20th-century Anglo-American writers that the Libraries established in 1964. Other authors in the MLC include James Merrill, Howard Nemerov, and May Swenson.

Joel Minor, curator of the MLC, feels the acquisition of Bang’s papers is important to the development of the archive.

“It’s thrilling that we have her papers,” he says. “She was influenced by the writers for whom we’re well known, and she’s an award-winning poet in her own right. Because she has been so influential to later generations of poets, she presents a vantage point from which we can look forward.”


The Mary Jo Bang Papers span six decades and include manuscript drafts, correspondence, journals, photos, and other materials. For more information about the collection or to set up an appointment in Special Collections, contact Joel Minor at or (314) 935-5413.