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John Elsberg papers

Call Number: MS 366


John Elsberg was the head editor and publisher from 1975 to 2012 for Bogg, a seminal small press literary magazine focusing on poetry, short fiction, and literary commentary by writers from the United Kingdom, the United States, New Zealand, Australia, and Canada. Elsberg also wrote, edited, and published many pieces of literary commentary and works of poetry with a particular focus on haiku and tanka forms. This collection includes drafts and notes for Elsberg's works; annotated reference material; published materials; manuscripts and proofs associated with Bogg and other works published by Bogg Publications; reviews; and personal and professional correspondence regarding Elsberg's work with Bogg, collaborations with other writers, works written and edited by Elsberg and writers in Elsberg's circle, and various personal matters.


  • Creation: approximately 1978-2012


Conditions Governing Access

No access restrictions.

Conditions Governing Use

Spencer Library staff may determine use restrictions dependent on the physical condition of manuscript materials.

Biography of John Elsberg (1945-2012)

Born in 1945, John Elsberg studied history at Columbia University and then St. John's College in Cambridge, England under the Kellett Fellowship. While in Cambridge with his wife, Connie Barnard Elsberg, and their son Steve, Elsberg studied English history and taught for the University of Maryland. Upon returning to the United States, Elsberg started working at the U.S. Army Center of Military History in 1975. In the course of his career, Elsberg became the editor-in-chief at the Center, a position he held until his retirement in 2005. Elsberg passed away in 2012.

Elsberg was also a highly regarded poet, reviewer, and editor in the worlds of small press publications and poetry. From 1977 to 1980, Elsberg served as a fiction editor for Gargoyle, until he left to act as the publisher for Bogg. That publication was begun by George Cairncross in England in the 1960s, and Elsberg became editor for the American supplement when it started in 1975. In 1980, Bogg transitioned to an American publication accepting works from the United Kingdom and the North American continent with Elsberg stepping into the role as head editor. Bogg would later also accept works from New Zealand, Australia, and Canada.

Under Elsberg, Bogg Publications was revived and published free-for-postage chapbooks featuring such writers and poets as George Cairncross, Ann Menebroker, Steve Sneyd, Joe Hirst, Ron Androla, Dave Ward, Charles Plymell, Todd Moore, J. Wesley Clark, Joan Payne Kincaid, Wilga Rose, Sheila Martindale, Tina Fulker, John Yamrus, David Check, Dave Wright, Martin Galvin, Derrick Buttress, and Laurel Speer. In addition to his work for Bogg, Elsberg also served as founding editor and advisor for the Delmarva Review from 2007 to 2012 and the online Delaware Poetry Review.

Elsberg wrote and published numerous works of poetry and literary commentary in various journals and small presses, as well as publishing nearly twenty collections of poetry. A few of John Elsberg's publications include Cornwall and Other Poems (1972), Poems by Lyn Lifshin and John Elsberg (1978), Walking, As a Controlled Fall (1980), The Limey and the Yank (1981), Home-Style Cooking on Third Avenue (1982), The Price of Reindeer (1983), Father Poems (1993), Offsets (1994), The Randomness of E (1995), Family Values (1996), Broken Poems for Evita (1997), Sailor (1999), Small Exchanges (1999), and South Jersey Shore: Poems and Brief Sketches (2005). Elsberg also wrote and published Catching the Light: 12 Haiku Sequences (2009) and All This Dark: 24 Tanka Sequences (2012) with Eric Greinke.


8 Linear Feet (8 boxes + 2 oversize boxes)

Language of Materials


Scope and Contents

This collection consists of the papers of poet and publisher John Elsberg. Included are proofs, revision and submission drafts, reference materials, notes on poetry form and theory, correspondence, and various other material related to Elsberg's published and unpublished works. The collection also includes correspondence, proofs, manuscripts, annotated drafts, and reviews and feedback related to Elsberg's editing and publishing work with Bogg and other works published by Bogg Publications. There is also personal and professional correspondence with associates in the world of small press publishing.

Oversize materials, located at MS Q93, have been described at the end of each appropriate series or sub-series.

Physical Location

MS 366

Physical Location

MS Q93

Immediate Source of Acquisition

Gift, Constance Elsberg, March 2016.

Related Materials

John Elsberg literary magazine collection, Special Collections Research Center, The George Washington University.

Separated Materials

Issues of Bogg, publications written by Elsberg, and non-annotated publications sent to Elsberg to be reviewed have been removed from this collection and separately cataloged as individual items at the Spencer Research Library. Consult the KU Libraries online catalog for additional information.

Processing Information

Collection material was arranged into series and subseries based on folder titles and general order of the materials when received at Spencer Research Library. In the Correspondence series, a few materials were arranged to match the general chronological order already apparent in the series. Additionally, a few pieces of correspondence marked "Feedback" by Elsberg in the Correspondence series were moved to the Feedback for Bogg series to better match the intended arrangement and make these materials easier to find.

Guide to the John Elsberg Collection
John Elsberg papers
Finding aid prepared by cmp. Finding aid encoded by cmp.
Description rules
Describing Archives: A Content Standard
Language of description
Finding aid written in English.
Finding aid permalink
Preferred citation
John Elsberg papers, MS 366, Kenneth Spencer Research Library, University of Kansas.

Repository Details

Part of the University of Kansas. Kenneth Spencer Research Library Repository

1450 Poplar Lane
Lawrence KS 66045-7616 United States