Carroll, Paul, 1927-1996

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Paul Donnelly Michael Carroll was born on July 15, 1927 in Chicago, Illinois. He was the son of Canadian-born John Alexander, an Irish-Catholic who worked in banking and property development, primarily in Chicago's Hyde Park neighborhood, and Stephanie, who was from Austria. He was married to Inara Birnbaum from 1964 to 1973 and they had a son, Luke. In 1977, Carroll married his second wife, Maryrose, a sculptor.

Carroll attended Catholic elementary, junior and senior high schools, graduated from Mt. Carmel High School, and served in the United States Navy. He attended college at Illinois Wesleyan from 1946-1948. He transferred to the University of Chicago in 1948, where he graduated with a Master of Arts in English Literature in 1952. In 1951 he received an Honorable Metnion for the John Billings Fiske Poetry Prize for his poem "The Glass Church." In 1954 he enrolled in the Ph.D. program sponsored by the Committee on Social Thought.

A well-known poet, Carroll was also known for his involvement with the Chicago Review and Big Table. He served as the poetry editor of Chicago Review from 1957-1958. Carroll, along with fellow editor Irving Rosenthal, published several of the "Beat" writers in the Autumn 1958 issue, including excerpts of William S. Burroughs' Naked Lunch, Philip Whalen's "Prose Take 1:VI:57," and "A Siege of Silence" by Brother Antoninus. After its release, reporter Jack Mabley wrote the article "Filthy Writing On the Midway," which appeared in the October 25, 1958 issue of the Chicago Daily News. Carroll and Rosenthal planned to continue excerpts of Burroughs' Naked Lunch and publish "Old Angel Midnight" by Jack Kerouac in the Winter 1959 issue. After discussions between Rosenthal and members of the University of Chicago administration, Rosenthal resigned his editorship on November 17, 1958, followed the next day with the resignations of other Chicago Review editors including Carroll, Charles Horwitz, Doris Nieder, and Barbara Pitschel. The planned Winter 1959 issue was not published. On December 25, 1958, this group founded the short-lived, but highly influential, journal Big Table.

Rosenthal edited the premier issue of Big Table, published on March 17, 1959, which published the Burroughs' Naked Lunch excerpts and Kerouac's "Old Angel Midnight" from the planned Winter 1959 issue of Chicago Review. Unbeknownst to the Big Table staff, on March 18 the United States Post Office impounded over 400 copies and refused to deliver it because of "obscenity and filthy contents," therefore it was not mailable. Upon the discovery of failed delivery in April, Big Table, with the help of Joel Spraygren of the American Civil Liberties Union, filed a lawsuit against the Post Office and hearings were held in June. The initial decision on July 9, 1959, "found Big Table 1 obscene and filthy," therefore not mailable. This decision was appealed and on June 30, 1960, Judge Julius Hoffman reversed the initial decision and stated that Big Table was not "obscene."

Carroll edited four more Big Table issues from 1959-1960. The fifth and final issue appeared after Hoffman's decision. Big Table published works by authors such as John Ashbery, Gregory Corso, Robert Creeley, Edward Dahlberg, Edward Dorn, Robert Duncan, Lawrence Ferlinghetti, Allen Ginsberg, Barbara Guest, LeROI Jones, Kenneth Koch, Philip Lamantia, Denise Levertov, Norman Mailer, Michael McClure, Pablo Neruda, Frank O'Hara, Peter Orlovsky, John Rechy, and John Updike. Though many of the published authors were considered part of the "Beat" movement, Carroll maintained that it was not a Beat journal, but open to publishing any new and unique writers. Big Table 6, "Post-Christian Man Symposium," was planned and advertised in Big Table 5, but never published. Big Table was discontinued primarily due to financial reasons.

Carroll also pursued an academic career. He lectured at Notre Dame University (1952-1954) and University of Chicago (1954-1957). He taught at Loyola University from 1957-1959, but was released from his position after the Chicago Review controversy. He worked for the magazine WFMT Perspective (precursor to Chicago magazine) and Mortimer J. Adler's Institute for Philosophical Research under the direct supervision of Charles Van Doren. He was a Visiting Professor of Poetry at the Program in Creative Writing at the University of Iowa from 1966-1967 and at Branford College, Yale University in 1969. Starting in 1969, Carroll became a Professor of English at the University of Illinois Chicago, where he founded the Program for Writers, the school's graduate program for creative writing, in 1974. Carroll retired as Professor Emeritus in 1992.

Carroll authored several books including The Satirical Letters of St. Jerome (1958), Odes (1968), The Poem in Its Skin (1968), The Luke Poems (1971), The Earthquake on Ada Street (1979), New and Selected Poems (1979), The Garden of Earthly Delights (1986), Poems and Psalms (1990), Chicago Tales (1991), and The Beaver Dam Road Poems (1994). He edited The Edward Dahlberg Reader (1967) and The Young American Poets (1968). From 1966-1971, he served as editor of the Big Table Series of Younger Poets for Follett Publishing Company.

Besides a writer and professor, Carroll was a pioneer in bringing poetry to the larger Chicago community. In 1968, he organized poetry readings at the Museum of Contemporary Art, mostly to promote the publications of Big Table Books, started in 1969 with Phil O'Hara, brother of the poet Frank O'Hara and a division of Follett Publishing Company. Eventually, these events developed into The Poetry Center in Chicago, which held its first official event, "Poets Look at Paintings," in 1974. Carroll served as president for the first year. He also hosted the WFMT radio show "The Name and Nature of Poetry" from 1974-1982.

His poems appeared in Accent, Black Mountain Review, Brilliant Colors, Chicago Review, Evergreen Review, Hopkins Review, Intransit: The Andy Warhol-Gerard Malanga Monster Issue, The New Yorker, Paris Review, Poetry, and other literary magazines. Carroll also appeared in Norman Mailer's movie Maidstone and he interviewed Mailer, Allen Ginsberg, and Tom Wolfe for Playboy.

Carroll received the Chicago Poets Award in 1985 by Chicago's Office of Fine Arts, which subsequently published The Garden of Earthly Delights. He received awards for his poems from the Illinois Arts Council in 1976 and 1981 and received Artists Grants from the Illinois Arts Council in 1983 and 1984. There is also a Paul Carroll Memorial Endowment for the Program for Writers through the alumni office at the University of Illinois Chicago.

Paul Carroll died near Vilas, North Carolina, on August 31, 1996.

From the guide to the Carroll, Paul D. Papers, 1950-1996, (Special Collections Research Center University of Chicago Library 1100 East 57th Street Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.)

Archival Resources
Role Title Holding Repository
referencedIn Gerard Malanga Papers, 1944-1971 Special Collections Research Center, Syracuse University Libraries
creatorOf Carroll, Paul D. Papers, 1950-1996 Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library,
referencedIn Ossman, David, 1936-. Tape recordings of interviews with poets and poetry readings, 1960-1970. University of Toledo, William S. Carlson Library
referencedIn Irving Rosenthal papers, ca. 1950-1996 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
creatorOf Rosenthal, Irving, 1930-. Irving Rosenthal papers, ca. 1950-1996. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
referencedIn Allen Ginsberg papers, 1937-1994 Stanford University. Libraries. Dept. of Special Collections and University Archives.
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Allen Ginsberg papers, 1944-1991. Columbia University in the City of New York, Columbia University Libraries
referencedIn Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. Allen Ginsberg papers, 1937-1994. Stanford University. Department of Special Collections and University Archives
Role Title Holding Repository
Relation Name
associatedWith Ginsberg, Allen, 1926-1997. person
associatedWith Malanga, Gerard. person
associatedWith Ossman, David, 1936- person
associatedWith Rosenthal, Irving, 1930- person
Place Name Admin Code Country


Birth 1927

Death 1996





Ark ID: w6nk78xn

SNAC ID: 42561884