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Robert Sward fonds
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CA UVICARCH SC116
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1937 - 1979 (Creation)
Physical description area
70 cm of textual records and other material
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Name of creator
Robert Sward was born in Chicago, Illinois, on 23 June 1933. He obtained an honours B.A. in English and American literature from the University of Illinois (Urbana) in 1956 and an M.A. in English and American literature from the University of Iowa (Iowa City) in 1958. His teaching experience prior to coming to U. Vic. included teaching English at Connecticut College, New London, Connecticut, from 1958-1959, and at Mitchell College, New London, in 1962, teaching in the writing program at Cornell University (Ithaca, New York), 1962-1964, serving as writer-in-residence as the Aspen Writers' Workshop, Summer 1967, and as poet-in-residence at the University of Iowa Writers' Workshop, 1967. In July 1969 Sward was appointed Visiting Lecturer and Poet-in-Residence at the University of Victoria Department of Creative Writing, and was later appointed assistant professor.
Sward's areas of academic interest have included creative writing, particularly poetry; 20th century British and American literature; and American poetry from Walt Whitman to the present. As a writer, his areas of interest include contemporary American poetry, Eastern philosophy and lyric poetry. His first collection of poems, Advertisements, was published by Odyssey Chapbook Publications in Chicago in 1958. Subsequent publications included Uncle Dog and Other Poems (Putnam, 1962), Kissing the Dancer and Other Poems (Cornell University Press, 1964), The Thousand-Year-Old Fiancée and Other Poems (Cornell University Press, 1965), and Horgbortom Stringbottom / I am Yours / You Are History (Swallow Press, Chicago, 1970). His novel, The Jurassic Shales was published by Coach House Press, Toronto, in 1975, and his Poems: New and Selected, 1957-1976 appeared in 1976. Sward has also published poems in numerous journals and anthologies, including The New Yorker, The Malahat Review, and PRISM International.
Sward won the Bread Loaf Writer's Conference Poetry Fellowship in 1958, a Fulbright Fellowship for study in England (1960-1961), a Guggenheim Fellowship in poetry (1964-1965), and the D.H. Lawrence Fellowship, awarded by the University of New Mexico for residence and writing at the Lawrence Ranch in Taos, New Mexico (1966). Sward has also been a member of the League of Canadian Poets.
At the University of Victoria, Sward has served on the Creative Writing Committee and the Committee on Visiting Poets, the latter being chaired by Robin Skelton. As fellow teachers and poets, Sward and Skelton began collaborating on a collection of poems, "Callsigns and Hannah", but due to personal disagreements the collaboration was abandoned and Skelton eventually completed the work on his own; it was published as Callsigns in 1976.
Other collaborations included the novella, Soft, which Sward wrote with Judith Sward. He and Judith were also interested in art history, an interest he shared with Irina Schestakowich. Since living in Victoria Sward has spent some time on Lasqueti Island, off eastern Vancouver Island, with Irina and with other friends.
In 1970 Sward founded Soft Press, a Victoria company which published fine limited editions of poetry. As its editor, Sward helped publish 16 poetry collections between 1970 and 1976, including the anthology West Coast Visions, and How Love Gets Around, by Michael Wolfe.
The records of Robert Sward were acquired by the University Archives in 1982, 1984 and 1994. Most of the material documents facets of his career as a poet and prose writer from the 1950's to the 1970's; his teaching career is mainly documented by holograph lecture notes and course outlines. Among Sward's records are files of the Soft Press, which Sward founded in Victoria, drafts of his poems and prose works, and many photographs and slides of Sward, his family and close friends. These records will be of particular interest to researchers studying not only Sward's own career but also the creative process in general and the development of small publishing companies in British Columbia.
Scope and content
The fonds consists of rough drafts and notes for Sward's poetry and prose fiction; publicity material for poetry readings given by Sward; correspondence relating to monetary appraisal of Sward's papers, correspondence between Sward and Wayne Carver, and correspondence regarding grants; Sward's daily journals, lecture notes and notebooks; publications, including magazines, brochures, chapbooks and booklets; Sward family photographs and photographs of Sward with friends and fellow writers, and slides of art works by Judith Sward; art work for publications by Soft Press; film, "The July Movie", by Frederick Edell; and, correspondence, essay and notebook of Irina Schestakowich.
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Inventory available with series and file level control.
Generated finding aid
See also "Jean Paul Sartre's Existentialism and Human Emotions (1947, 1957), with marginalia from Robert Sward (1953, 1958)": http://omeka.library.uvic.ca/exhibits/show/movable-type/authorship/sartre-sward
Includes ca. 220 photographs; ca. 260 slides; 2 film rolls.
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Revised by JF, August 8, 2013.
Finding aid added by JF, August 23, 2019.
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