Manuscripts & Folklife Archives in the Special Collections Library has recently opened the papers of Kentucky native and poet Joe Bolton, which includes his accumulated loose poems. Bolton’s highly biographical poetry received widespread praise and was published in three compilations: Breckinridge County Suite, Days of Summer Gone and The Last Nostalgia, as well as in a number of literary journals. The Last Nostalgia was published posthumously and edited by Pulitzer Prize winning poet Donald Justice.
Joseph Edward Bolton was born on December 3, 1961 in Cadiz, Kentucky, the son of Ed and Nancy (Foster) Bolton. His parents were schoolteachers. Bolton attended public schools in Cadiz. He started his college studies at the University of Mississippi but transferred to Western Kentucky University (WKU) the following year. He graduated summa cum laude with a Bachelor’s of Arts degree from WKU, where he also received the Jeoffrey McCelvey Memorial Award and the Gordon Wilson Award. He then matriculated at the Univeristy of Floirda (UF), where he received a Master’s in English in 1988. He also finished all the requirements for a MFA from the University of Arizona. He did other graduate work at the University of Houston and UF. For a brief period he taught creative writing at UF. Bolton committed suicide on 30 March 1990.
Besides Bolton’s poetry, the collection features Donald Justice’s research notes and correspondence related to publishing The Last Nostalgia. Justice corresponded with Bolton’s father Ed and with one of his close college friends, Tonya Parsons, who provided information about Joe’s life while attending WKU. The correspondence contains biograpical information about Bolton and reveals how friends and family deal with suicide. To see a copy of the collection finding aid click here. To search for other literary collections held by Manuscripts & Folklife Archives search TopSCHOLAR.