This collection was curated by MA student Ji Lee in May 2016.

Camden is an ever-changing city that is always moving and always reshaping itself. It is home to the Nick Virgilio Archive and his work is a reminder of how poetry, like the city, is in a constant state of building and rebuilding.

...continue reading the Introduction
Drafts of Virgilio’s poetry is proof of this perpetual revision in the way he challenges words and the placement of those words between spaces, behind alleyways, or stringing along highways that leave behind a trail of editorial mayhem in his wake, but at a welcomed cost. When I read Virgilio’s poetry, I can’t help but think about context and how space informs our senses in figuring out dimensions in the same way Virgilio uses haiku to adhere to, but also deviate away from structure.

Virgilio’s poetry offers a glance into nature and urban life that paradoxically places these contrasting spaces into one plane. I selected these following poems from the 1092 Niagara Series, which is named after Virgilio’s place of residence.  Drafts of his poetry in this particular series carry his home address typed and impressed on its pages. I chose these poems to give a vivid sense of context and environment that also showcases language of transit from nature to urban life and from subway trains to trolleys and transitory images of sunlight against headlights and rainbows on oil-slicked roads. I had the privilege of reading through Virgilio’s manuscripts and I present this curated collection to invite you join in this project and explore.
Curated Haiku from Virgilio's Unpublished Drafts

Windy April day;
lost in city sounds and smells:
newly-soled shoes. (Box 1 Folder 5)

The sultry suburb…
an approaching trolley
drowning out cicada-song.  (Box 1 Folder 1)

A departing jet…
trailing an umbilical cord:
a butterfly. (Box 1 Folder 11)

On the subway train,
holding the haiku book:
its vibrating heart. (Box 1 Folder 6)

The wet black-top highway…
an oil-slick blotches the crown:
the rainbow. (Box 1 Folder 13)

The great stone Buddha…
moonlight drips from its icicled nose:
a snotty urchin. (Box 1 Folder 11)

the bombed-out church…
a vulture roosts on the cross:
the clouded sun. (Box 1 Folder 1)

moonlit city lot
strewn with sticks and broken bricks:
stray kitten licks wound. (Box 1 Folder 18)

A discharged patient
by the sanitarium gate:
a cicada-shell. (Box 1 Folder 10)

A lone candle
opens the womb of the night:
the picnic grove. (Box 1 Folder 10)

Fireflies at dusk –
gouging out the eyes
of potatoes. (Box 1 Folder 15)

pink morning-glories
thread the chain-link fence and gate:
dead brother’s name and date. (Box 1 Folder 10)

The funeral procession…
headlights glaring –
into the blinding sun. (Box 1 Folder 5)

the empty highway:
a run-over pigeon lifts
its wing in the wind (Box 1 Folder 15)

Peeping sunlight:
the back of an old mirror
plotting tonight’s Galaxy (Box 1 Folder 13)