University of Chicago Library

Guide to the Mark Perlberg Papers 1953-2010

© 2017 University of Chicago Library

Descriptive Summary


Perlberg, Mark. Papers




3 linear feet (3 boxes)


Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, Illinois 60637 U.S.A.


Mark Perlberg (b. 1929, d. June 23rd, 2008) was a poet, journalist, editor, and educator. In 1968, he co-founded the Poetry Center of Chicago. The collection consists of event announcements and correspondence related to the Poetry Center, materials used in Perlberg’s poetry workshop at the Newberry Library, and drafts of Perlberg’s various essays and poems. In addition, there are posters from Poetry Center events, including two that are autographed (one by Stanley Kunitz and another by Galway Kinnell). Materials date from 1953 to 2010.

Information on Use


The collection is open for research.


When quoting material from this collection, the preferred citation is: Perlberg, Mark. Papers, [Box #, Folder #], Hanna Holborn Gray Special Collections Research Center, University of Chicago Library.

Biographical Note

Mark Perlberg was born in 1929 in Palisade, New Jersey. In 1950, he graduated from Hobart College with a degree in English Literature. While taking graduate courses at Columbia University in 1952, he was called to serve in the Korean War. In 1953, he married Anna Backer and, in 1954, he was discharged from the service. He then began his career as a journalist with Time Magazine, relocating to Chicago in 1956. He later worked for Encyclopaedia Britannica, World Book Encyclopedia, and Prism. During this time, he and Anna had two daughters, Katherine Eve and Julie Anna. In 1968, he co-founded the Poetry Center of Chicago, serving as president for 13 years. He also taught a poetry workshop at the Newberry Library for nearly 20 years. Perlberg has five published poetry collections: The Burning Field (1970), The Feel of the Sun (1981), The Impossible Toystore (2000), Waiting for the Alchemist (2009), and Theater of Memory: New and Selected Poems (2012). Mark Perlberg died on June 23rd, 2008 in Skokie, Illinois. His wife, Anna, was instrumental in bringing his final collection to publication.

Scope Note

The Mark Perlberg Papers are organized into 7 series:

Series I: Personal Papers; this series contains some of Perlberg’s important personal documents, including his military discharge papers, permissions and copyright information for his published works, and a copy of his birth certificate. Materials date from 1953 to circa 2008 and are arranged chronologically.

Series II: Correspondence; this series contains Perlberg’s personal as well as profession correspondence. The bulk of his personal correspondence is in regards to his poetry while the bulk of his professional correspondence consists of official communications between the Poetry Center of Chicago and various other institutions, including the Museum of Contemporary Art and the School of the Art Institute of Chicago. Materials date from 1967 to 2010 and are arranged first by type (personal followed by professional), then chronologically.

Series III: Writings; this series contains typescript and holograph drafts of Perlberg’s various essays and poems. Materials date from 1965 to 2008 and are arranged first by type (essays followed by poems), then alphabetically by title.

Series IV: Publicity and Reviews; this series contains publicity information and advertisements as well as literary reviews of Perlberg’s poetry. Materials date from 1977 to 2010 and are arranged first by type (publicity followed by reviews), then alphabetically by the title of the work being reviewed.

Series V: Poetry Center of Chicago; this series contains numerous documents pertaining to the administration of the Poetry Center of Chicago, including an annual report, development prospectus, and event announcements. Materials date from 1978 to 2001 and are arranged chronologically.

Series VI: Newberry Library, Poetry Workshop; this series contains mostly course plans, pamphlets, and course evaluations of Perlberg’s poetry workshop sponsored by the Newberry Library. Materials date from 1986 to 2003 and are arranged chronologically.

Series VII: Oversize; this series contains newspaper clippings of reviews for Perlberg’s book entitled The Burning Field as well as posters for events hosted by Poetry Center of Chicago in its early years. Also included is a photograph of the Poetry Center founders. Materials date from 1970 to circa 1980 and are arranged chronologically.

Related Resources

The following related resources are located in the Department of Special Collections:

Browse finding aids by topic.

Poetry Center of Chicago. Records

Chicago Review. Records

Poetry: A Magazine of Verse. Records

Subject Headings


Series I: Personal Papers

Box 1   Folder 1

Letter of Recommendation (from van Doren), 1953

Box 1   Folder 2

Military Discharge Papers, 1954

Box 1   Folder 3

Clippings, 1955

Box 1   Folder 4

Copyrights and Permissions, 1976-2009

Box 1   Folder 5

Birth Certificate (copy), 1983

Box 1   Folder 6

Biographical Information and CV – Typescript drafts, undated

Series II: Correspondence

Box 1   Folder 7

Perlberg, Mark (regarding his writing and editing), 1967-2008

Box 1   Folder 8

Perlberg, Mark (regarding Lannan Residency), 2002

Box 1   Folder 9

Perlberg, Mark (regarding his death), 2008-2010

Box 1   Folder 10

Poetry Center – General, 1975-2004

Box 1   Folder 11

Poetry Center – Illinois Arts Council, 1980

Box 1   Folder 12

Poetry Center – John Cage Benefit, 1991-1992

Box 1   Folder 13

Poetry Center – Museum of Contemporary Art, 1994-1996

Box 1   Folder 14

Poetry Center – School of the Art Institute of Chicago, 1996

Series III: Writings

Box 1   Folder 15

Essays – Autobiographical Essay – Typescript draft with holograph notes, 1990

Box 1   Folder 16

Essays – “The Growth and Popularity of Poetry Workshops” – Typescript drafts, undated

Box 1   Folder 17

Essays – “Janacek’s Diary of One Who Vanished” – Typescript draft, 1961

Box 1   Folder 18

Essays – “Some Thoughts on Translating Chinese Poetry” – Typescript drafts, undated

Box 1   Folder 19

Poems – “The Garden” and other poems – Typescript and holograph drafts, 1965-1977

Box 1   Folder 20

Poems – “Nightsweat” and other poems – Typescript and holograph drafts, 1995

Box 1   Folder 21

Poems – “Odyssey Variations” and other poems – Typescript and holograph drafts, undated

Box 1   Folder 22

Poems – “Song of the Platelets” – Typescript and holograph drafts, 2008

Series IV: Publicity and Reviews

Box 1   Folder 23

Publicity – Flyers, newsletters, clippings, holograph notes, 1977-2005

Box 1   Folder 24

Publicity – Postcard – Theater of Memory, 2012

Box 1   Folder 25

Reviews – The Burning Field, 1970

Box 1   Folder 26

Reviews – The Feel of the Sun, 1982

Box 1   Folder 27

Reviews – The Impossible Toystore, 2000-2001

Box 1   Folder 28

Reviews – Sunflower Splendor and Poems for the Dead, 1975-1984

Box 1   Folder 29

Reviews – Waiting for the Alchemist, 2009-2010

Series V: Poetry Center of Chicago

Box 2   Folder 1

Seasonal programs, 1978-2001

Box 2   Folder 2

Annual report, 1980

Box 2   Folder 3

Program evaluation report, circa 1980

Box 2   Folder 4

Resolution by members and board of directors, 1980

Box 2   Folder 5

Event announcements, 1986-1997

Box 2   Folder 6

Event programs, 1988-1999

Box 2   Folder 7

Lists of readers and contributors, circa 1988-2008

Box 2   Folder 8

Long range plan and development prospectus, 1990-1991

Box 2   Folder 9

Introductions for visiting writers, 2001

Series VI: Newberry Library, Poetry Workshop

Box 2   Folder 10

Pamphlets, 1986-2000

Box 2   Folder 11

Student poems – Typescript drafts with holograph comments, circa 1995-1996

Box 2   Folder 12

Course plans – Typescript drafts and holograph notes, 1995-2000

Box 2   Folder 13

Seminar evaluations, 2002-2003

Box 2   Folder 14

Poems for class, undated

Series VII: Oversize

Box 3   Folder 1

Reviews – The Burning Field – Newspaper Clippings, 1970

Box 3   Folder 2

Poetry Center – Event posters, circa 1970-1980

Box 3   Folder 3

Poetry Center – Photograph of founders, including Mark Perlberg, circa 1970-1980