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John Tagliabue papers

Identifier: MC065

Scope and Content Note

The John Tagliabue Papers consist of documents concerning the life and writings of John Tagliabue. The documents in this collection include personal and general correspondence and published and unpublished writings, including many poems, plays, essays, short stories, and other creative works. Although there is a high degree of personal and professional correspondence connected to his publications, every-day activities, travels, and academic writing and teaching, there is little specific correspondence or organizational papers related to Tagliabue's political activities and leanings. However, there are references within the general correspondence. Much of Tagliabue's personal and political sensibilities can be culled from his poetry on various subjects from the deaths of John F. Kennedy and Martin Luther King to his romantic descriptions of nature. The researcher looking to examine this aspect of Tagliabue's life will find the best source for such references are in the correspondence to well known political figures and to his sister, Erica Dorf. The collection includes some material in Italian, Portugese, Chinese and other foreign languages. Full translations are not available for most of these documents, but general summaries have been provided wherever possible.

Note that a travel journal from Greece, August-October 1962, which was listed on the original accession log has not been located as of September 2006.


  • ca. 1940-2011, undated


Access Restrictions

The collection is open for research.

Use Restrictions

The collection is the physical property of Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College holds literary rights only for material created by College personnel working on official behalf of the College, or for material which was given to the College with such rights specifically assigned. For all other material, literary rights, including copyright, belong to the authors or their legal heirs and assigns. Researchers are responsible for obtaining permission from rights holders for publication or other purposes that exceed fair use.

Historical Note

John Tagliabue was born in Cantu, Italy on July 1, 1923 near Lake Como to Adelaide and Battista Tagliabue. At the age of four, Tagliabue immigrated with his mother and his younger sister, Erica Tagliabue (Dorf), to the United States following the emigration of his father and the establishment of his father's restaurant in North Bergen, New Jersey. An ardent enthusiast of literature and reading, John Tagliabue entered Columbia University where he majored in American, English, and Comparative Literature and took several courses in Art History. While at Columbia, Tagliabue was a student of renowned poet Mark Van Doren, writer Raymond Weaver, author Lionel Trilling, philosopher Jacque Maritain, publisher Giuseppe Prezzolini, and art historians Millard Meiss and Meyer Schapiro. In addition to his relationship with Van Doren, Tagliabue studied alongside well known 1950s and 1960s writers and poets of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac and Allen Ginsberg. Though his style was quite different from that of the Beat Generation, Tagliabue retained a close association with Allen Ginsberg and a more distant relationship with other members of the Beat Generation, Jack Kerouac (who had already dropped out of Columbia), Lucien Carr and William Burroughs.

Tagliabue graduated from Columbia University in 1944 with a B.A. degree in English and with a M.A. degree in 1945. Later that year, he left for his first teaching assignment at American University in Beirut, Lebanon. The following year, John Tagliabue married artist and painter, Grace Ten Eyck, who later illustrated many of his poems and created the puppets for his Mario Plays. In 1947, he traveled to Italy for graduate study and work translating Italian poetry at the University of Florence. That same year, Tagliabue received the first of seven Fulbright scholarships to teach, study, and translate Italian poetry at the University of Pisa. Tagliabue returned to the United States to teach at the State College of Washington and Alfred University.

John Tagliabue eventually joined the Bates College faculty in the fall of 1953 where he taught in the English Department until his retirement in 1989, a span of thirty-nine years. At Bates, he taught "Cultural Heritage," "World Literature" (which introduced Asian literature into the Bates curriculum), "The Short Story" and "Writing on the Maine Scene," as well as courses focusing on Shakespeare, major American writers and modern poetry. He founded the first Film Series at Bates and helped form the Poetry Reading Series. He also served as advisor to the Bates Garnet magazine in 1970. In 1972, John Tagliabue was promoted to full Professor of English. In 1989, he was given the title of Professor Emeritus of English, a tribute to his legacy and profound impact on the college.

During his tenure at Bates College, Tagliabue served as a visiting scholar teaching English and American Literature at Tsuda College, and Women's Christian College of Tokyo (1958) and as a poet and writer in residence at Anatolia College in Greece (1978), in Natal, Brazil (1968), and at Bennett College in Greensboro, N.C. (1965). He also received many grants and fellowships of note including Fulbright Fellowships to teach in such places as Pisa, Tokyo, Japan, Shanghai, China, and Jakarta, Indonesia. In 1981, Professor Tagliabue was awarded a Rockefeller Foundation grant to study in Bellagio, Italy on Lake Como during the August and September months. October and November of 1981 were then spent traveling through India and Nepal. In 1987 John Tagliabue received another grant from the Michael Karolyi Memorial Foundation to spend time in Southern France writing poetry related to the region.

John Tagliabue published his first collection of poetry in 1959. Entitled Poems, the book received wide critical acclaim. It was eight years before Tagliabue published his second book of poetry entitled the Japanese Journal (1966). The Japanese Journal was followed by a series of published works of poetry including: The Buddha Uproar: Poems (1967, 1970), The Doorless Door (Japan Poems) (1970), The Great Day: Poems, 1962-1983 (1984), New and Selected Poems: 1942-1997 (1997). In addition to his many publications, Tagliabue published more than 1500 poems in more than a 100 magazines and journals. These include: The Atlantic Monthly, American Haiku, Arizona Quarterly, Apple, Beyond Baroque, Bitterfoot, Carleton Miscellany, Carolina Quarterly, Chicago Review, Columbia University Forum, First Stage, New England Review, The Northwest Review, Mainline, Modern Age, Southern Poetry Review, and the Wisconsin Review, to name a few. Tagliabue's poetry is included in anthologies such as Hierbas, Purpura y Magnolias (1973); For Neruda, For Chile: An International Anthology (1975); and Poetspeak: In Their Work, About Their Work: A Selection (1983). Tagliabue's poems also appear in a Boston University art exhibit catalog, Marianna Pineda, Sculpture, 1949 to 1996.

John and Grace Tagliabue had two daughters, Francesca Tagliabue and Dina Tagliabue; and four grandchildren, Phoebe and Alexander Gould, and Juniper and Terra Tagliabue. John Tagliabue died May 31, 2006 at the age of 82 in Providence, R.I., where he had lived with his wife, Grace, since 1998.


28.5 Linear Feet

Language of Materials



Poems, typescripts, travel journals, correspondence, and other documents concerning the life and work of John Tagliabue, an accomplished poet and professor of English at Bates College. It includes correspondence with a number of Bates faculty and alumni and well known poets, including Allen Ginsberg and Donald Hall.

Organization and Arrangement

The first sevenseries, correspondence series with Ilene Avery, Ardwin Barsante, Erica Dorf, Nancy Wiegel, John Wing, the Hirshlers, and Robin Magowan, represent material that was acquired separately from the main collection through the generosity of these individual donors. They have been kept as separate series in recognition of their distinct provenance. The remainder of the collection has been divided into series based upon content and format.

Acquisition and Custody Information

Gift of John Tagliabue, 1998. Accruals received from Ardwin Barsanti (2003), Erica Dorf (2000-2006), Paul Hoffman (2005), John Tagliabue (1999), and Nancy Wiegel (2003).

Accession No.: 04-033, 05-036, 2009.

Related Material

Pamela Alexander papers, Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library. Bates College

John Tagliabue papers, Special Collections Research Center. Syracuse University Library. 222 Waverly Avenue, Syracuse, NY 13244-2010. Phone: 315-443-2697. Email:

David Ray papers, Special Collections Research Center. University of Chicago Library

Processing Information

Initial processing by Chris Beam and Kurt Kuss. Reprocessing and description by Nishani Frazier, 2006.

Guide to the John Tagliabue papers, ca. 1940-2006, n.d.
Edited Full Draft
Nishani Frazier
Language of description
Script of description
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Language of description note
Description is in: English
Edition statement

Repository Details

Part of the Edmund S. Muskie Archives and Special Collections Library Repository

70 Campus Avenue
Lewiston Maine 04240 United States of America