Rumaker, Michael, 1932-....

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Author and poet, early associate of Beat writers in San Francisco, Calif., and student at Black Mountain College, Black Mountain, N.C.

From the description of Michael Rumaker papers, ca. 1957-1990. (University of Connecticut). WorldCat record id: 28420364

Michael Rumaker was born in South Philadelphia to Michael Joseph and Winifred Marvel Rumaker, the fourth of nine children. He spent his first seven months in the Preston Retreat charity ward, too sickly to be brought home, while his mother helped pay for her keep and his birth by peeling potatoes in the hospital's kitchen. He grew up in National Park, New Jersey, a small town on the Delaware River, and later attended the school of journalism at Rider College in Trenton on a half-scholarship. After hearing artist Ben Shahn speak enthusiastically of Black Mountain College during a lecture at the Philadelphia Museum of Art, he applied to the college and was granted a work scholarship. In September 1952 he transferred to Black Mountain--washing dishes seven days a week, managing dishwashing crews, and taking care of the kitchen his first year--and studied in the writing classes of Charles Olson and Robert Creeley. While at Black Mountain College he produced three stacks of manuscripts, each a foot high, which he kept hidden on a top shelf. He symbolically burned them at the time of his graduation--"a ritualistic burning of apprentice rubbish," he recalls--saving only three or four stories.

His breakthrough was "The Truck," written for Olson's writing class in October 1954: "after two years of confused false starts and superficial scratchings, I wrote my first real short story, although, in what was to become usual for me, I didn't know it till after the fact." He had "reached back," by his own account, into his adolescence in the mid-1940s and a street gang he knew in the northern section of Camden, New Jersey, "to get it." Olson's response was enthusiastic, and he suggested that Rumaker send the story to Robert Creeley for the Black Mountain Review. "After that, I went on to work with abandon and increased energy and wrote a half dozen or so additional stories in rapid succession, working consistently up to the end of the 1954 winter term and into a winter-break spent in New York City." These additional stories included "Exit 3" and "The Pipe," both collected in Gringos and Other Stories (1967).

In September 1955 Rumaker graduated from Black Mountain with an honors degree ( Robert Duncan was his outside examiner)--one of only two or three students to have graduated from the college in its final years. After graduation, he lived in Philadelphia for a year, working in an advertising agency during the day and writing stories at night ("Black Mountain College," he wrote, "had prepared me for nothing but my destiny"). In October 1956, he quit his job at the agency and hitchhiked the three thousand miles to San Francisco, where he worked as a clerk for a steamship company, again writing in his spare time while staying with former Black Mountain friends there, on hand for the energies shortly to be recognized as those of the Beat Generation. He describes these days vividly in "Robert Duncan in San Francisco," part of his memoir of literary life still in progress. What he found was that "A new vitality was beginning to stir in the light and spaciously open air.... It seemed that everybody was writing and painting and making music. Dress, hair, talk was shaggier, rawer; fresh idioms of speech were possible. To me, the look and talk of those most actively involved was like an extension and coalescence of earlier Black Mountain changearounds, that had cohered and emerged simultaneously in Swannanoa Valley and the Bay Area."

He returned to New York in April 1958, suffered a breakdown some six months later, and was hospitalized, first at Bellevue and then at Rockland State just north of New York City, until August 1960. His first contract, then--four stories for Scribners' Short Story 2 anthology--was signed in a mental institution. Since recovery he has continued to live in Rockland County, first in Grand View on the Hudson River and since 1974 in South Nyack. He received an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University in 1969 and has taught writing at the New School for Social Research, City College of New York, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Rockland Center for the Arts.

Michael Rumaker has published works of fiction, poetry and non-fiction, novels, short stories, and two memoirs. He received an M.F.A. in creative writing from Columbia University in 1969 and has taught writing at the New School for Social Research, City College of New York, the State University of New York at Buffalo, and Rockland Center for the Arts.

According to George Butterick, who began reading and collecting Michael Rumaker’s literary papers at the University of Connecticut in 1974, "Rumaker has proceeded from writing about disengaged youth in a generation willing to declare its difference, to being a celebrant of total life and human joy. Actively participating in his own destiny, he has left a glowing trail of work to document the struggle toward identity. He represents, in his later writings, one extension of the Beat revolution: the embracing of sexual diversity. Governing all his work is an indefatigable spirit that gives the creative life reward.”

From the guide to the Michael Rumaker Papers, 1950-2010, (Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Research Center, University of Connecticut Libraries)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
creatorOf Rumaker, Michael, 1932-. Michael Rumaker papers, ca. 1957-1990. University of Connecticut, Homer Babbidge Library
referencedIn Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library) poetry readings, 1931- (ongoing). Woodberry Poetry Room, Houghton Library, Harvard College Library, Harvard University
creatorOf Kyger, Joanne. Correspondence, 1957-1975. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
referencedIn Diane Di Prima Papers, 1948-1971 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Allen, Donald, 1912-2004. Donald Allen collection, 1930-2005. University of California, San Diego, UC San Diego Library; UCSD Library
referencedIn Joanne Kyger Correspondence, 1957-1975 University of California, San Diego. Geisel Library. Mandeville Special Collections Library.
referencedIn Jeffery Beam Papers (#4888), ca. 1968-2007 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Oyster Boy Review Papers (#4897), 1994-1998 University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Library. Southern Historical Collection
referencedIn Ann Charters Papers., 1966-1982. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
referencedIn Gary Snyder Papers, 1910-2003;, (1945-2002 bulk) University of California, Davis. General Library. . Dept. of Special Collections
referencedIn Guide to the Signal Archive, circa 1963-1965 Fales Library & Special Collections
referencedIn New Directions Publishing Corp. records, 1932-2005 Houghton Library
referencedIn Merrill Gillespie Papers., 1953-2002 (bulk 1953-1956). Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
creatorOf Seelye, Catherine M., 1926-1982. Catherine Seelye - Olson/Pound papers. University of Connecticut, Homer Babbidge Library
referencedIn John Wieners Papers., 1958-1986. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
creatorOf Allen, Donald, 1912-2004. Papers, 1957-1971. University of Connecticut, Homer Babbidge Library
referencedIn Wieners, John, 1934-2002. John Wieners papers, 1958-1986. University of Connecticut, Homer Babbidge Library
referencedIn Joel Oppenheimer Papers, 1925-1988. Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
creatorOf Michael Rumaker Papers, 1950-2010 Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
creatorOf Wieners, John, 1934-2002. Charles Olson-John Wieners Papers, 1952-1968. Boston College. John J. Burns Library
referencedIn University of Connecticut Libraries Records, undated, 1882- Archives & Special Collections at the Thomas J. Dodd Center.
referencedIn Grove Press Records, 1953-1985 Syracuse University. Library. Special Collections Research Center
creatorOf Butterick, George F. Sarcophagus records, 1976-1977. University of Connecticut, Homer Babbidge Library
referencedIn Yaddo records, 1870-1980 New York Public Library. Manuscripts and Archives Division
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Allen, Donald, 1912-2004. person
correspondedWith Beam, Jeffery, 1953- person
associatedWith Black Mountain College (Black Mountain, N.C.) corporateBody
associatedWith Charters, Ann. person
correspondedWith Creeley, Robert, 1926-2005. person
associatedWith Di Prima, Diane, Archives person
associatedWith Gillespie, Merrill. person
associatedWith Grove Press. corporateBody
associatedWith Kyger, Joanne. person
correspondedWith Levertov, Denise, 1923-1997 person
associatedWith New Directions Publishing Corp. corporateBody
associatedWith Olson, Charles, 1910-1970. person
correspondedWith Oppenheimer, Joel person
correspondedWith Oyster boy review person
associatedWith Seelye, Catherine M., 1926-1982. person
associatedWith Snyder, Gary person
associatedWith University of Connecticut. University of Connecticut Libraries. corporateBody
correspondedWith Wieners, John, 1934-2002. person
associatedWith Woodberry Poetry Room (Harvard College Library). corporateBody
associatedWith Yaddo (Artist's colony) corporateBody
Place Name Admin Code Country
United States
Pennsylvania
California
San Francisco (Calif.)
Black Mountain (N.C.)
North Carolina
Philadelphia (Pa.)
Subject
American literature--20th century
Beat generation
American literature
Literary Collections
American newspapers
American poetry--20th century
Universities and colleges
Authors and publishers
Gays--Periodicals
American periodicals
Gay newspapers
Gays
Occupation
Poets, American
Authors, American
College students--North Carolina
Activity

Person

Birth 1932-03-05

Americans

English

Information

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