Oral Histories and Written Memoirs
Compiler, Professor Elizabeth Renker, The Ohio State University Department of English

Sarah Morgan Bryan Piatt (1836-1919), a popular, prolific, and well-regarded poet during her lifetime, published more than 600 poems for multiple audiences. Her work appeared in venues ranging from political newspapers to elite magazines and anthologies to periodicals for children. Her earliest poems, when she was still "Sallie M. Bryan," were published in the late 1850s by the most influential editors of the age. She married John James Piatt, a poet from Ohio, in 1861. For decades, her work continued to meet with robust national and transatlantic acclaim. She fell into obscurity upon her death, at a time when modernist poets were turning against their poetic predecessors, and against women poets in particular, as allegedly stodgy and conventional. (Only recently have these twentieth-century ideologies of poetic value themselves become subjects of scrutiny and critique.) In a remarkable cultural turn whose full history remains to be written, Piatt was rediscovered in the 1990s by numerous scholars working independently of one another. Since that time, she has quickly gained stature as a major artist. In this collection of interviews and written memoirs, scholars who contributed to the first and second waves of Piatt’s recovery tell their stories about how they came to "find" Piatt—and why they identified her as a major author deserving of cultural reclamation.

Interviews to date:

Dr. Larry R. Michaels, 10 Oct. 2017, conducted by Professor Elizabeth Renker. In 1999, Michaels produced the first edition of selected works by Piatt published since her death in 1919, That New World: Selected Poems of Sarah Piatt, 1861-1911. Dr. Michaels has donated a substantial collection of research notes and Piatt materials, including first editions, to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library at The Ohio State University. A finding aid for his papers is available at https://library.osu.edu/collections/spec.rare.0222. Book and serial donations may be found in the library catalog through a keyword search on "gift of Larry R. Michaels."

Dr. Paula Bernat Bennett, 9 Sept. 2017, conducted by Professor Elizabeth Renker. In 2001, Bennett produced the first edition of selected works by Piatt published by a university press, Palace-Burner: The Selected Poetry of Sarah Piatt. Dr. Bennett has donated her research materials to the Rare Books and Manuscripts Library (https://library.osu.edu/collections/spec.rare.cms.0116).



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