Patricia and David Kassing’55 traveled 800 miles from home in a rented truck to personally hand-deliver 1,800 poetry books to the Beloit College library.
A collection of childhood memories is connected with an $85,000 poetry collection that has found a home at Beloit College.
“My father read poetry and would often recite poems he had memorized,” says David Kassing’55 (Falls Church, Va.), who delivered the gift to Beloit over the summer. “So poetry was part of my early childhood.”
As a Beloit student, Kassing took an American literature course taught by Chad Walsh, one of the founders of the Beloit Poetry Journal. “He reinforced my understanding of and respect for poetry.”
As part of that course, students were required to read the works of Walt Whitman. That book, along with several anthologies Kassing purchased during college, was the start of his collection. Some 40 years later, his bookshelves held 1,800 poetry books by more than 300 authors from the mid- to late 20th century. Many are first editions or are signed by the author.
“I set out to collect the works of American poets of my own generation,” says Kassing, who majored in economics, loves history, and was an analyst and manager with the RAND Corporation for 20 years, a not-for-profit think tank. “I feel I have done that, and now I am beginning to collect the works of poets of my children’s generation.”
Many of the titles will be placed in general circulation by January, while selected works such as those with significant or valuable inscriptions will be assigned to Beloit’s Special Collections in the College Archives. All of the books will be available for students and scholars.
“Beloit has a lot to do with my interest in poetry and also has a long presence in the American poetry scene through the Beloit Poetry Journal,” Kassing says. “But the reason for the gift is simple: My Beloit education gave me an excellent basis for my professional career, and the gift of the poetry books was but a small signal of my appreciation.”