Verna Elizabeth Grubbs, better known to her poetic peers as Ann Winslow, was a driving force in the shaping of young poets during the early-to-mid 1900s. The Ann Winslow collection evidences her immersion in the world of the golden age of American poetry, which includes correspondence between her and poets such as Robert Frost, Joseph Auslander, and Ezra Pound, and letters from fellow editors of poetry like Virginia Kent Cummins.
To her family she was known simply as “daughter” or “sis,” but the Verna who attended Grinnell College in Iowa became Ann, a University of Wyoming professor of English and a creative mind behind the successful poetry journal College Verse which circulated for 10 volumes over the course of 10 years.
Her most lasting effect on the University of Wyoming was her involvement in the dedication of the Robert Frost Poetry Library in Hoyt Hall, now known as the Mathison Library. A newspaper clipping from The Branding Iron, the University of Wyoming student newspaper, speaks of the books dedicated by Robert Frost during his visit to Laramie and of Ann Winslow’s work as executive secretary for “College Verse.”
Of the suggestion to name a library after him, Robert Frost wrote to Ann that, “I shall of course want to respond with such gifts as are within my power to give. Poetry hasn’t made me rich enough to be much of a benefactor. But there are a few books I can help you with …Would you accept some sort of special portrait?” [Frost to Winslow, May 30, 1938, Winslow papers, Box 1]. The portrait of Robert Frost, with a handwritten dedication, remains on the shelves of Mathison Library and Frost’s visit is immortalized through Winslow’s own words in a manuscript of her unpublished book in the Winslow collection.
Ann’s enthusiasm for poetry is also reflected in her work with young poets through “College Verse” and her book, Trial Balances, published by The MacMillan Co in the mid-1930s. Of this work, her good friend and frequent correspondent, Alexander Laing, wrote in 1965, “What impresses me now is the percipience of your operation. Fifteen of the new poets presented, by my count, have emerged as notable practitioners: one short of half of the thirty-two! That’s miraculous” [Laing to Winslow, September 3, 1965, Winslow papers, Box 3].
Little is revealed in the collection about her experience as an instructor in the English Department at the University of Wyoming. However, one letter written by, presumably, Winslow’s former student at basic training in 1943 suggests that the enthusiasm with which she approached poetic culture was also applied to her teaching. “I always like to hear from the folks back at Wyo. U.,” he wrote, before signing the letter as “One of Winslow’s Wild Wyomians” [Lt. E. Minich to Winslow, August 21, 1945, Winslow papers, Box 2).
– Submitted by Lydia Stuver, William D. Carlson Award Intern, American Heritage Center.