Catfish McDaris Collection Biographical Note/Scope and Content

The Catfish McDaris Collection includes the publications and personal papers of the author, as well as a small collection of publications by and correspondence with other modern poets.

Marquette University acquired the Catfish McDaris Collection in 2013.

Processed by McKayla Sutton, Pat Zimmer, and Amy Cary in 2014.

Biographical Note

Steven “Catfish” McDaris was born in Albuquerque, New Mexico in 1953 and grew up in the South Valley.  Dave Reve, the editor of Zen Tattoo, suggested the nom de plume after McDaris admitted that he wanted to quit his job at the post office to start a catfish farm. After serving as a gunner in the U.S. Army, McDaris hitchhiked across the United States and Mexico. His eclectic experiences include shark fishing, building adobe houses, taming wild horses near the Grand Canyon, and running a zinc smelter in Texas. He has also lived in caves and called a Chevy Impala home for one winter in Denver. After working at a post office in Milwaukee for 34 years, McDaris found employment as a journeyman bricklayer. He now spends his time rehabbing furniture, making knives, and writing poetry.

For the last two decades as a poet and author, McDaris has published prolifically in the small press. In addition, nineteen chapbooks feature collections of his poetry, prose, and artwork. McDaris has served as a contributing editor for numerous journals, including the Latino Stuff Review. He has been nominated several times for the Pushcart Prize and is a two-time winner of the Poetry Slam at the Green Mill in Chicago. In past years, he participated in poetry readings around the world, including venues in New York, Chicago, and Paris. McDaris also lent his expertise to help found Wordstock, a charity poetry festival in Milwaukee.

Scope and Content

Series 1, Publications, 1972-, is composed of the published works of Catfish McDaris and other modern poets. The series is divided into three parts, with the first corresponding to works published by McDaris. This includes poetry and prose found in chapbooks, zines, and journals, which are arranged in alphabetical order by publication title. Series 1.2 consists of zines published by other modern poets, arranged in alphabetical order by poets' last names and chronologically thereunder. Series 1.3 contains books published by others, many of which have been signed by the authors. These books have been cataloged separately and can be found in range 31, bay 2, shelves 5-6.

Series 2, Personal, 1969-2013, contains McDaris' personal files related to awards, correspondence with editors, general correspondence, drawings and sketches, interviews, newspaper clippings, photographs, poetry event announcements, publishing programs, and reviews of his work. This series is arranged alphabetically by subject.

Series 3, Poet Files, 1980-2010, includes McDaris' correspondence with other modern poets, along with newspaper clippings, announcements of upcoming readings, and samples of their literary works. The series is arranged alphabetically by poets' last names.

Series 4, Media, 1994, is composed of a small collection of VHS tapes on the Wordstock charity poetry festival in Milwaukee. They are arranged chronologically.

Series 5, Electronic Materials, (in progress), consists of materials published by Catfish on the internet, collected in Archive-It, a website-capturing tool.