Literary Papers of Summer Brenner

Summer Brenner. Photograph by Tom Leslie, 1977, from the back cover of From the Heart to the Center.

    The University of Delaware Library announces the opening of the literary papers of Summer Brenner, a novelist, poet, and activist currently residing in Richmond, California.  The collection was processed by Christopher LaCasse, a  Graduate Assistant from the English Department in Special Collections, 2009-2010.  Christopher LaCasse, from Griswold, Connecticut, obtained his Bachelor of Arts in English and his Bachelor of Science in Education from the University of Connecticut, Storrs.  He is also a graduate of the U.S. Army/National Guard Engineer and Leadership Schools.

    Summer (Rebecca Susan) Brenner was born in 1945, the daughter of first generation Ashkenazic Jews who settled in Atlanta, Georgia.  Raised by a creative mother who was an    artist and a father who was politically liberal in the segregated South, Summer Brenner moved north to Simmons College in Boston, and then studied abroad at the University of Florence (1965-66) and the University of Paris (1966-67).  She completed requirements for a bachelor of arts at Georgia State University in 1968. After relocating to New Mexico, Summer Brenner moved again in the 1970s to the San Francisco Bay Area, where she has thrived creatively in diverse artistic and writing communities.


Personal correspondence in the Summer Brenner papers is particularly rich, documenting decades of exchanges with family and friends, many of whom are writers and artists.

    The Summer Brenner papers offer a comprehensive view of a writer’s life across four decades, with supporting personal papers and materials related to various creative projects.  The collection includes extensive personal correspondence; diaries and journals; contributions to literary journals, anthologies, and a wide variety of independently published periodicals; papers related to community literacy projects and education; publishing contracts and promotional ephemera; and comprehensive literary manuscripts that document several stages of the creative writing process.  Summer Brenner’s correspondence is particularly rich and was maintained in "letterboxes” throughout her life.  She exchanged personal news, drafts of works in progress, and writerly advice with members from an intimate circle of writers and artists that included Laura Chester, Gloria Frym,   Margaret Edwards, Barry Gifford, Stephen Rodefer, Geoff Young, Aline and Robert Crumb, Peter Coyote, and Andrei Codrescu.  In collaboration with many of these, Brenner contributed her own writing and helped edit independent little magazines or small press projects.  The many notable periodicals in which her own work has appeared include Beatitude, The Berkeley Monthly, Big Sky, Exquisite Corpse, Fervent Valley, Outpost, Pangolin, Snap, Southpaw, Stooge, The Three Penny Review,Two Charlies Magazine, Yellow Silk: Journal of Erotic Arts, Yawp, and ZYZZYVA.


Selected books of poetry and novels by Summer Brenner, including Everyone Came Dressed as Water (1973), From the Heart to the Center (1977), Dancers & the Dance: Stories (1990), and Ivy: Tale of a Homeless Girl in San Francisco (2000).


    Summer Brenner is the author of ten books of poetry and fiction, including two influential books for young people.  Her books include Everyone Came Dressed as Water (1973), From the Heart to the Center (1977), The Soft Room (1978), Dancers and the Dance (1990), One Minute Movies (1996), Nearly Nowhere and the French translation of this novel, Presque nulle part (1999), Ivy: Tale of a Homeless Girl in San Francisco (2000), The Missing Lover (2006), and an audio CD, Because the Spirit Moved by Arundo.  Her most recent works include a children’s novel titled Richmond Tales: Lost Secrets of the Iron Triangle (2009) and I-5:  A Novel of Crime, Transport, and Sex (2009).

    Summer Brenner’s literary writings and activities are diverse and often community based.  In her early years in the Bay Area, she participated in many poetry readings and spoken word performances, and continues to do so today.  “The Flood,” her poem in four voices was performed at Links Hall in Chicago, and her one-act play, “The Missing Lover,” was directed byPeter Glazer.  Because the Spirit Moved by Arundo (2003) is a recorded production that sets Summer Brenner’s poetry to music.  With grant funding, Brenner developed several projects to bring writing to her community, such as “Where We’re From,” which brings inter-generational, cross-cultural oral history, poetry, and photography project for youth and their elders.



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