The Ben Belitt collection consists of manuscripts, correspondence, subject files, photographs, personal memorabilia and artwork, audio and video recordings, and printed material.
Manuscripts by Belitt primarily consist of poems, may present in multiple drafts. Also present are notebooks filled with Belitt's handwritten notes and poetry drafts. Other manuscripts by Belitt include over a dozen essays, as well as miscellaneous fragments. In addition, the collection includes translations by Belitt of works by Pablo Neruda, Enrique Huaco, Manuel Duran, Lucia Ungare, and others; as well as proofs for This Scribe, My Hand: The Complete Poems of Ben Belitt (Louisiana State University Press, 1998).
Manuscripts by various authors (other than Belitt) include essays and speeches about Belitt, short pieces on various subjects, and poems and fragments (in English and Spanish) by writers such as Joseph McLaughlin, Beau Friedlander, Joan Hutton Landis, Jerry Mason, Marc Woodworth and others. Some of these are accompanied by cover letters.
Correspondence in the collection mainly includes letters sent to Belitt by others, regarding his poetry and professional life, dating from ca. 1933 to 2003. There are some copies in the collection of letters written by Belitt from the 1960s on. Personal correspondence sent to Belitt includes letters and cards are dating from the 1930s to the present. There are letters from other poets, authors, critics and friends. Notable correspondents include Saul Bellow, Harold Bloom, Louise Bogan, James Dickey, Martha Graham, Pablo Neruda, and many others.
Subject files in the collection consist of files of mixed materials, assembled and arranged by Belitt, pertaining to various subjects and topics chosen by Belitt. Topics include various individuals, writing workshops, teaching, personal issues, poem translations, photographs, and writing projects. Notable topics include Saul Bellow; editors; Martha Graham; Pablo Neruda (several files); The New Yorker (all correspondence), and Publishers.
Photographs in the collection consist of about 100 photos of Belitt, including photos from his youth; portraits; photos from Bennington, Vermont; Mexico; and pictures of friends like Saul Bellow, Martha Graham, and others. Also present are slides from Belitt’s travels around Europe and South America.
Personal memorabilia and artwork include degrees earned by Belitt; lecture posters; and various sketches, paintings and pastels by Belitt and other artists.
Audio and video recordings in the collection include reel-to-reel recordings of about a dozen poetry readings and/or lectures, mostly from the 1960s; and VHS video cassettes of Belitt reading and giving lectures.
The collection contains over fifty years worth of collected reviews and articles about Belitt's work. There are also printed photos of Belitt and published works from magazines and journals. Present are issues of various magazines and newspapers, including Bennington, El Tiempo, The Nation, The New Leader, New York Herald Tribune, New York Times Book Review, The Religious Observer, and Voyages. Also in the collection are covers for some of Belitt's books, programs from his public appearances, fliers about his work, and various pamphlets.