Paul Carroll Papers

Paul D. Carroll (1927-1996) was a poet, editor, and educator who taught at the University of Illinois-Chicago. The Paul D. Carroll Papers document all aspects of his work and are open for research.

Early on, Carroll was known for his involvement with 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. 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. The planned Winter 1959 issue was not published. On December 25, 1958, Rosenthal and Carroll 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. The United States Post Office impounded over 400 copies and refused to deliver it because of "obscenity and filthy contents.” The initial court decision "found Big Table 1 obscene and filthy.” This decision was appealed, and 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 poets such as John Ashbery, Robert Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Barbara Guest, LeRoi Jones, Denise Levertov, and others.

Carroll also pursued an academic career. 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. He retired as Professor Emeritus in 1992.

Carroll authored several books including The Poem in Its Skin (1968), The Luke Poems (1971), New and Selected Poems (1979), The Garden of Earthly Delights (1986), and The Beaver Dam Road Poems (1994).

Carroll was also a pioneer in bringing poetry to the larger Chicago community. In 1968, he organized poetry readings at the Museum of Contemporary Art, primarily to promote the publications of Big Table Books, started in 1969. Eventually, these events developed into The Poetry Center of Chicago, which held its first official event, "Poets Look at Paintings," in 1974.