On October 22 and 23, 2015, Washington University Libraries’ Department of Special Collections hosted a symposium celebrating the writing and the life of Pulitzer Prize-winning poet James Merrill. Dr. Langdon Hammer, professor of English at Yale University and author of the new biography James Merrill: Life and Art, delivered the keynote address on October 22. Talks, readings, and other events took place during the symposium. The lineup of speakers included Mary Jo Bang, J. D. McClatchy, and Carl Phillips. A reception was held on October 22. All events took place on Washington University’s Danforth Campus. Videos of the speakers are available at theModern Literature Collection YouTube channel.
The Department of Special Collections houses the James Merrill Papers, one of the Libraries' first acquisitions for its Modern Literature Collection (MLC), which was founded in 1964. Merrill, who died in 1995, donated journals, photographs, manuscripts, correspondence, and other materials to the MLC. It’s now the largest archive in the world devoted to his life and work. Selections from the papers are available online via the James Merrill Digital Archive, a digital exhibit launched in 2013 that features transcripts of the poet’s famous Ouija board sessions.