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Aaron Coleman Papers

A photo of poet Aaron Coleman seated within the Olin Library Special Collections Reading Room.

A renowned poet and translator, Aaron Coleman, has been widely published in venues like The New York Times Magazine, and his first two books received a great reception. St. Trigger won the Button Chapbook Poetry Prize in 2016, and Threat Come Close, published by Four Way Books in 2018, was the 2020 GLCA New Writers Award for Poetry winner and longlisted for The Believer Book Award.

The printed title page of Aaron Coleman's draft for Threat Come Close is annotated in blue and black pen. Notes are lists and include elements like "things I want to do," "a list of editing tasks," "translation programs," and more.
Threat Come Close manuscript from August 2015. Coleman worked on this manuscript the summer before his 3rd-year fellowship. He notes changes as well as possibilities for university translation programs.

Early mentor Diane Seuss wrote of Coleman’s debut, Threat Come Close: “Whitman-like in its expansiveness, with Dickinson’s ferocious interiority, this collection represents the ravishing next step in American poetry.” And the poet Terrance Hayes wrote, “Quizzical, idiosyncratic, and blood-fueled: this extraordinary debut epitomizes how the best of our contemporary poetry sings.”

Arriving in St. Louis in the summer of 2013, Coleman became an important figure in what would become known as the St. Louis Black Arts Renaissance. He received his MFA in creative writing from Washington University in 2015. Professor Mary Jo Bang and Professor Carl Phillips selected him as a Third Year Fellow in the Writing Program for the 2015-16 academic year, after which he entered the International Writers Track in the Comparative Literature Department at Washington University. Working alongside Professor Ignacio Infante as his dissertation advisor, Coleman received his PhD in comparative literature in 2021.

Coleman also received fellowships from the National Endowment for the Arts in 2021, the J. William Fulbright Program, the Cave Canem Foundation, and the American Literary Translators Association. He is currently a postdoctoral fellow in Critical Translation Studies at the University of Michigan.

The covert art for Threat Come Close featuring a young Black man with a cast on his left arm seated in a metal folding chair reaching up to angle a heatlamp towards his upturned face.
Cover of Aaron Coleman’s book of poetry, Threat Come Close.

The Aaron Coleman Papers continue a tradition begun in the 1960s where successful writers early in their careers are invited to become a part of the Modern Literature Collection in the Julian Edison Department of Special Collections. Coleman’s papers demonstrate his dedication as both artist and scholar from 2015 to 2021. Included are drafts of poems from his first two books, class materials from his MFA and PhD years, and other materials highlighting some of the important moments in his work both on campus and within the wider St. Louis area.

Header Image Credit: Aaron Coleman photographed for the 2023 Faces of WashU by Ajla Ahmetovic.


Special Collections, Special Collections, Preservation, and Digital Strategies
Joel Minor
Job Title
Curator of Modern Lit Collection/Manuscripts
Phone Number
(314) 935-5413