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Tyrone Williams papers

Identifier: PCMS-0122

Scope and Contents

The Tyrone Williams papers consist of born-digital materials and paper documents, including notebooks, research notes, drafts, letters, project plans, typed manuscripts, as well as academic materials related to William’s education, dissertation, and teaching. The bulk of the materials were created by Williams between 1969 and 2021. The born-digital items cover a period from 2001-2021.

Much of the collection is related to William’s career as a poet and educator. Included are correspondence both personal and professional—with friends, students, publishers, and fellow poets. Geographically the materials are largely limited to the Midwest region, specifically the areas in and around Detroit, MI and Cincinnati, OH, where Williams is a professor of English at Xavier University. However, as a poet with a significant reputation, there are materials from and related to poets, readings, and organizations across the United States.


  • 1969-2021

Terms of Access and Use

The Tyrone Williams papers, 1969-2021 are open to researchers. Portions of this collection have been minimally processed. Privacy protected information (including but not limited to certain educational, medical, financial, criminal, attorney-client, and/or personnel records) may be revealed during use of archival collections, particularly in collections that are unprocessed or have been minimally processed. Researchers agree to make no notes or other recordation of privacy protected information if found within the archival collections, and further agree not to publish, publicize, or disclose such information to any other party for any purpose if found within the archival collections.


Copyright of papers in the collection may be held by their authors, or the authors' heirs or assigns. Researchers must obtain the written permission of the holder(s) of copyright and the Poetry Collection before requesting photocopies and/or publishing quotations from materials in the collection. Once permission is obtained, most papers may be copied in accordance with the library's usual procedures unless otherwise specified.

Biographical Note

Poet, educator, and literary critic Tyrone Williams was born on February 24, 1954, in Detroit, MI. Born into a working-class family, his father worked in the auto industry at three plants: Chrysler, Ford, and GM, and his mother worked as both a housecleaner at a home for retired women and in the public schools (1). His mother encouraged him and supported him in his creative endeavors at a very young age—whether that included cutting up issues of Highlights, playing music, or writing poetry (2). He attended Durfee Junior High School where, at 13, his love of poetry and storytelling flourished with the help of his teacher Miss Horn and classmate Anthony Luffboro, two encouraging forces during this period of his life. Growing up in Detroit, adjacent to the Cass Corridor art scene, Williams naturally came to understand early that the possibilities for what art and writing could be were endless (3). His work is as much influenced by the working-class writers of the Midwest such as Bob Hicok, Phil Levine, Jim Daniels as it is by the avant-garde movements in the Cass Corridor. His early influences also come from a vast array of fields and disciplines including Chemistry (specifically subatomic particles), French literature, the music criticism of Creem Magazine, and of course poets including but not limited to the Symbolists, Black Arts Poets, Language Poets, and eventually his contemporaries such as Carl Phillips, Erica Hunt, and Claudia Rankine (among many others).

Williams attended Wayne State University for his BA, MA, and PhD in English, his dissertation was titled The Poetics of Open and Closed Forms. In 1983 he moved to Cincinnati, OH and began teaching at Xavier University in the English Department where he continues to teach to this day. He also continues to contribute literary criticism on several platforms including Jacket2 where he offers unique insights into poetry’s history and evolution and the sung and unsung poets who are important to that narrative.

Williams has published seven books of poetry: c.c. (Krupskaya, 2002), On Spec (Omnidawn, 2008), The Hero Project of the Century (The Backwaters Press, 2009), Howell (Atelos, 2011), Adventures of Pi (Dos Madres, 2011), As Iz (Omnidawn, 2018), and Washpark (Delete Press, 2021), a collaboration with Pat Clifford.

Throughout his career he has continued to publish chapbooks, including Convalescence and Other Poems (Ridgeway Press, 1987), Futures Elections (Dos Madres Press, 2004), AAB (Slack Buddha, 2004), Musique Noir (Overhere Press, 2006), Pink Tie (Hooke Press, 2011), Between Red & Black: Narrative of the Black Brigade (Dos Madres Books, 2016), There is a Misery So Great It Over (Further Other Book Works, 2016), Pow Wow Wer: Truth (Further Other Book Works, 2016), Line 9, Part 1 (Compline, 2020), and an artist book titled Trump L’oiel (Hostile Books, 2017), which consists of 13 lines written separately on crumpled tissues stuffed into a crushed tissue box (edition limited to 52).

He has also edited the poetry anthologies Masterplots II: African American Literature (Salem Press, 2009) and Inciting Poetics: Thinking and Writing Poetry (University of New Mexico Press, 2019).


1. Wilkinson JM. An Interview with Tyrone Williams. Denver Quarterly. 2008;43(2):96-105.

2. Bernstein, Charles. Tyrone Williams on Close Listening. Jacket 2. February 25, 2017.

3. Lewis, Erica. Our Generation: A Conversation with Tyrone Williams. The Poetry Foundation. July 12, 2017.


3 Gigabytes (3,305 files, 179 folders)

23.77 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Tyrone Williams is a poet, literary critic, and educator based in Cincinnati, OH. The Tyrone Williams papers contain Mr. Williams’s manuscripts, academic files, personal and professional correspondence, files related to his career as an English professor at Xavier University, and personal copies of manuscripts by his contemporaries. The collection contains both paper and born-digital items.


The collection is divided into six series according to subject, with the Manuscripts series subdivided into subseries according to genre. With the exception of Correspondence and Work by Others, the arrangement of the collection has been kept intact. Rehousing was conducted on all items for safekeeping and some items were moved due to obvious misfiling. Relocation of items and folders will be noted in series and folder descriptions.

Acquisition Information

The Tyrone Williams papers were purchased from Tyrone Williams in May 2021 as accession 2021-PCMS-004.

Processing Information

Collection was processed by Kolbe Resnick in 2022; digital material processed by Grace Trimper, 2022. Finding aid encoded by Kolbe Resnick and Grace Trimper, 2022. Materials were received in varying degrees of organization. Where possible the original order has been maintained, exceptions to this have been noted.

Digital files created by Tyrone Williams were transferred to the Poetry Collection on a USB flash drive or via email. Where possible, digital content saved on storage media was migrated from the storage media, normalized to standard preservation and access formats, and transferred to a stable preservation environment following the University Libraries' Digital Preservation guidelines. Some folder titles were altered and file arrangement reorganized to assist researchers in locating and identifying digital content.


Finding aid for the Tyrone Williams papers
Finding aid prepared by Kolbe Resnick and Grace Trimper
December 2021
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Script of description

Repository Details

Part of the The Poetry Collection Repository

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