Jan Garden Castro Papers

Two women and two men standing in a reception hall.

St. Louis native and Washington University alumna Jan Garden Castro is an accomplished poet, author, editor, critic, lecturer, curator, and arts activist. She served as co-founder and Executive Director of River Styx literary magazine from 1975 to 1987. Castro was also a founding director of the River Styx Duff’s Performance Series and PM Series.

Two women and two men standing for a photograph.
Jan Garden Castro with Howard Nemerov, Margie May, and Washington University Chancellor William Danforth, November 11, 1981. Photo by Paul Neuenkirk

Castro’s multifaceted career has included work in art and literary criticism, research, and interviews. Notable writers and artists such as Margaret Atwood, Sanford Biggers, Eavan Boland, Chakaia Booker, Allen Ginsberg, John Hollander, James Merrill, Mariko Mori, Lika Mutal, Howard Nemerov, Mark di Suvero, Richard Stella, Quincy Troupe, Nari Ward, and Ai Weiwei, among many others, have been featured in her articles and interviews. Her writings about visual art include The Art and Life of Georgia O’KeeffeSonia Delaunay: La Moderne, and sixteen cover stories for Sculpture Magazine, where Castro has been a contributing editor since 1996 (please see the Libraries’ Catalog for available issues of Sculpture Magazine).

Book cover of The Art & Life of Georgia O'Keeffe with a photograph of O'Keeffe.
First edition front cover of The Art & Life of Georgia O’Keeffe by Jan Garden Castro.

The Jan Garden Castro resources in Special Collections consist of both the Jan Garden Castro Papers and a vast collection of cataloged materials donated from her personal library. The Jan Garden Castro Papers include a variety of her personal research materials, educational materials, writings, and correspondence. These items include numerous original transcripts and cassette tapes of her interviews, typescript drafts, photocopies and clippings of books and art reviews, exhibit catalog essays, notebooks and diaries, and Castro’s other writings relating to River Styx. Audiovisual materials include Castro’s taped interviews, episodes of her Double Helix cable TV show The Writers’ Circle, and poetry readings from the Duff’s and River Styx PM Series.

A typed page with notes written in pen.
This is a page from Castro’s manuscript for the “Sonia Delaunay: A Life in Art” book project. The Jan Garden Castro Papers also include her MA thesis on Delaunay, which was the basis for this book and for Sonia Delaunay: La Moderne (2002, Japan Association of Art Museums).

Castro, in tandem with River Styx and Michael Castro, focused from the beginning on publishing and promoting the work of international and minority voices both inside and outside of the academic realm. Her collected materials include many publications, chapbooks, poetry, writings, art, and literary journals not widely found in other libraries. Other notable materials within Castro’s personal donations include print materials, publications, manuscripts, and rare art books collected by Castro throughout her career.

A typed transcript with notes written in pen.
The first page of a transcript of a 1977 interview with Ishmael Reed.

This collection of Castro’s work and personal materials is an especially valuable resource for the study of 20th- 21st century visual art, literary publications, St. Louis history, oral history, and artistic modes of expression by diverse voices. Castro’s own meticulous research and annotations preserved in this collection serve as excellent foundational material for further investigation in these fields and far beyond.

Front cover and title page of The Last Frontier.
Pages from The Last Frontier, a collaborative project of poet Jan Garden Castro and graphic designer Robert Charles Smith, Eclectic Press & professor emeritus in the Sam Fox School of Design & Visual Arts at Washington University in St. Louis.

In addition to Washington University Libraries Special Collections, Castro has deposited materials at the Thomas Fischer Rare Book Library, University of Toronto, Canada, the Georgia O’Keeffe Museum, Santa Fe, New Mexico, and the Berg Collection at the New York Public Library.

A stylized edition of Margaret Atwood's The Handmaid's Tale with the title spelled out with Scrabble tiles on the cover.
Rarest of three Suntup editions of The Handmaid’s Tale by Margaret Atwood, with Afterword by Jan Garden Castro, 2022, signed by Atwood, Sophie Mackintosh, Jan Garden Castro, Ken Cunningham, edition of 26 lettered copies, copy PC.


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