University of Arizona

Michael Cuddihy and Ironwood Press Records

Michael Cuddihy was born in 1932 in New York City. His family was steeped in literature and publishing; his grandfather and father headed the publishing firm Funk and Wagnalls. Cuddihy was 19 and a student at Notre Dame University when he was stricken with respiratory polio on Labor Day 1951. For nine months, he lived in an iron lung, after which he shifted to a rocking bed. Eventually, he used a wheelchair and was able to walk with assistance.

In 1956 he moved to Tucson, Arizona, and continued his studies at the University of Arizona. Cuddihy graduated in 1959 with a B.A. degree in History. Throughout the 1960s, Cuddihy worked as a translator and attended graduate classes in American and European history at the University of Arizona. In 1966 he dropped out of graduate school to devote himself to his translating work and published an English version of Jacques Maritain’s The Peasant of Garonne (1967).  On July 13, 2000 Michael Cuddihy died at his home in Tucson from complications of pneumonia.

In 1971, Cuddihy attended a summer workshop at Cornell given by his second cousin’s husband, poet William Mathews, and it was there the idea for his poetry magazine Ironwood was born. The name for the magazine was chosen both for the symbolic and physical qualities of the ironwood tree. Ironwood magazine was published from 1972-1988, and the Ironwood Press published 14 chapbooks. Ironwood became known in the poetry world and attracted such names as Diane Wakoski, Philip Booth and Alberto Rios, and received numerous state and federal grants.

This collection consists of the personal papers and poems of Michael Cuddihy and the records of the Ironwood Press, including production materials for the literary magazine Ironwood. The bulk of the collection consists of correspondence between Cuddihy and contributors to Ironwood. The Ironwood productions files consist of typescripts, corrected typescripts, and when available, original cover artwork.