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Bill Costley Papers

Identifier: 1983-0002

Scope and Content

The collection contains manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, notebooks, clippings, periodicals, audio tapes, and memorabilia of poet Bill Costley.


  • 1964-2014


The collection is unprocessed and uncataloged however is open and available for research. During the use of the archival collections including collections that are unprocessed or have been minimally processed by archival staff, information with regard to third parties and privacy protected information may be revealed. Collections that include twentieth and twenty-first century archival materials may contain information that is protected under federal or state "right to privacy" laws, including but not limited to certain educational, medical, financial, criminal, attorney-client, and personnel records. Researchers are advised that the disclosure of certain information pertaining to third parties or living individuals without the consent of those individuals may have legal cause for action.

Restrictions on Use

Permission to publish from these Papers must be obtained in writing from the owner(s) of the copyright.


Scottish-American / Polish-American poet, translator, journalist, playwright, and blogger Bill Costley was born to working-class parents William Kirkwood and Mary Stefania Costley on May 21, 1942. He is well-known for his socially-conscious poetry and political views, which he describes as “anti-fascist, anti-imperialist.” His writing inspirations include American environmentalist and narrative / epic poet Robinson Jeffers, Russian futurist poet Vladimir Mayakovsky, and influential German writer and dramatist, Bertolt Brecht.

Costley's writing is influenced by his upbringing in the industrial city of Lynn, Massachusetts. His poems thus have a realistically urban, oral-history feel to them, and stand in opposition to the style of poetry championed by Robert Frost, much of which emphasized rural New England culture. Costley writes his straightforward poems in single, 15-minute drafts. These verses—which he recites in a number of unconventional places ranging from ladders, to schools, to church steps—are often posted on his online blog. Costley has been an active blogger since August 2008, with 100-130 posts—some poetry, some political opinion pieces, and some mixtures of both— on average per year thereafter.

Costley completed his undergraduate years at Boston College, where he won writing prizes and also received his B.A. in English and French literature in 1963. He pursued graduate work at Boston University from 1967-1968 and subsequently enrolled in classes at Mission College (Santa Clara, CA). He has held a number of jobs throughout the years: he was a medical technician at Harvard (1966), a periodicals librarian for engineering at MIT (1967), a technical writer for many companies (1974-1993), a Wellesley, MA substitute high school English instructor (1996-1997), host of the Wellesley College radio’s WZLY-FM Hyacinths & Biscuits broadcast (1983-1984), and also co-producer of two programs for Wellesley cable TV, the Wellesley Symphony (1987) and AUTHOR! (1989-1990). He wrote for the New Verse News during the 2000s and is currently a “citizen blogger” for the online nonprofit news organization, The Bay Citizen.

Costley’s interest in social change prompted him and his second wife, Carolin Combs, to relocate to Scotland after Ronald Reagan’s reelection in 1984, where he gave poetry readings and lectures throughout the region. In 1985, Costley was in residence at the Scottish National Trust arts colony in Fife, and thereafter joined a number of literary societies including the Scottish Poetry Library Association. He helped establish action groups such as the Fife Anti-Apartheid Group. Costley is also the publisher of Scottish academic and writer Dr. Tom Hubbard’s multilingual magazine, Puente.

He has published four books of poetry: R(A)G(A)S (1978), Knosh I Cir (1978), Terrazzo (1986), A(Y)S(H)A (1988), and Siliconia (1995). Costley’s plays include Lynn Voices (with Peter T. Bates, 1979), Hard Currency (1985), and The 4th (1989). He has contributed to The Ghost Dance Anthology (1994) and The Poetry of Motion (1985) among many others. His poetry has been featured in journals such as Ploughshares, Arts in Society, New Edinburgh Review, West End, and Aspect. More recently, Costley has made it into the following publications: Kurt Hemmer’s Encyclopedia of Beat Literature (2006), Fresh Hot Bread (2008), the Haight Ashbury Literary Journal (2008), The New Verse News (2011), and Gargoyle Magazine (2011).

Since 2002, Bill has been working on a screenplay, two collections of poetry, a prose book, and a children’s book. In addition to remaining socially-conscious, many of his recent poems center on his wife, Carolin Combs, who died of cancer at the age of 50 on January 26, 2007.

Bill Costley resides in Santa Clara, California.

Sources: Costley, Bill. Blogger / Google. Web. 22 March 2012.>.

“Costley, Bill.” Web. Accessed: 8 March 2012. />.

Costley, Bill. “Bill Costley: About Me.” The Bay Citizen: News, Culture, Community. The Bay Citizen, n.d. Web. 22 March 2012. />. Costley, Bill. “Bill Costley: Poet, Journalist, Blogger.” LinkedIn. LinkedIn Corporation, 2011. Web. 30 March 2012. />.

Costley, Bill. “Memory of: Carolin Jayne Combs (1956-2007).” TelNET, 20 May 2007 (created), 25 Feb. 2012 (last updated). Web. 30 March 2012. http://carolin->.

“Directory of Writers: Bill Costley.” PW. Poets & Writers, 19 March 2009. Web. 22 March 2012. />.

"William K(irkwood) Costley, Jr." Contemporary Authors Online. Detroit: Gale, 2002. Literature Resource Center. Web. 22 Mar. 2012.


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Language of Materials



The papers of poet, translator, journalist, playwright, and blogger Bill Costley contain manuscripts, correspondence, diaries, notebooks, periodicals, clippings, audio tapes, photographs, and memorabilia documenting his work and life from 1964 to 2013. Additions to the collection are expected and will be added through time.

Acquisition Information

This collection was donated by Bill Costley on May 16, 1983. Since the initial donation, regular donations have been received and added to the papers.

Bill Costley Papers
An Inventory
Under Revision
December 2009
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Describing Archives: A Content Standard
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Repository Details

Part of the Archives and Special Collections, University of Connecticut Library Repository

University of Connecticut Library
405 Babbidge Road Unit 1205
Storrs Connecticut 06269-1205 USA US