August 2 - Another Dayton Poet Named Paul

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On August 2, 1896, Paul Laurence Dunbar was at Everett House, a fashionable hotel in New York City.  In a letter to his future wife, Alice Ruth Moore in West Medford, Massachusetts, Paul spoke highly of a poet from Dayton named Paul Shivell.

I have been showing your picture to a poet friend of mine, and he, well I won't tell you what he says, but he agrees with me and I can say nothing but nice things of you.  Besides he is handsome with light brown curling hair and the eyes and face of a poet.  You have perhaps not heard of him yet for he never offers anything to the magazines;  but I have faith enough in his powers to believe that you will hear of him.  He had the good sense to get named Paul and his last name is Shivell.  You would love him.

Paul Laurence Dunbar to Alice Ruth Moore, August 2, 1896.  Paul Laurence Dunbar Papers, Ohio History Connection (Microfilm edition, Roll 8).

Two years younger than Paul Dunbar, Paul Shivell attended school in Dayton.  He went to Chicago and worked at the 1893 World's Columbian Exposition, where Paul was also employed.  Shortly after Paul mentioned him in a letter to Alice, Shivell recited one of his poems at a teacher training conference in Dayton.

After an intermission, the chair introduced Paul Shivell, a young man who recited a beautiful poem of his own composition entitled "The Artist and the Artisan."  It evinced considerable talent on the part of the author.  He is working his way through Harvard, having made his preparatory expenses digging potatoes and waiting at the table in a hotel.  He is a manly young man, and made a decided hit with the teachers.

"Teachers' Institute."  The Dayton Evening Herald (Dayton, Ohio).  August 4, 1896.  Page 1.

As Paul told Alice, Shivell was not widely published, but two years after this letter was written, his book, Ashes of Roses, was released by the United Brethren Publishing House, the same Dayton company that published Paul's first volume of poetry.  Critical response was favorable, but Shivell seemed to believe that publishing his poetry was a sacrilege.

An interesting meeting of the public forum, Church of the Epiphany, Walnut Hills, will be held on Sunday evening.  The principal address will be delivered by Paul Shivell, one of Ohio's latest but most inspiring poets.  Shivell's poems show not only great poetic genius but a wealth of expression rarely attained with a most appealing touch of the "personal tone" in them.  Pastoral in tone and sentiment they show a profound knowledge of human nature and humanity.  Shivell is a native of Dayton, and his place in the greater poetic ranks is assured.

"Shivell at Public Forum."  The Cincinnati Commercial Tribune (Cincinnati, Ohio).  February 26, 1916.  Page 3.

What prophet can illuminate God's World --
What seer make duty clearer -- or what priest,
Standing between the people and their Maker,
Darkeneth not their faith, if in that heart
Fine reverence be wanting?  And shall Thy poet,
Making a traffic of his secret joy,
Profane Thy holy sanctuaries, Lord,
Built in the open air, where all Thy works
In their simplicity fulfill unnoticed
The purpose of their being?


Excerpt from "On Being Urged to Publish," by Paul Shivell.  Published in Stillwater Pastorals and Other Poems.  Houghton Mifflin Company (New York, New York).  1915.  Page 24.

On the 45th anniversary of Paul's birth, a commemoration was held at the home that he shared with his mother Matilda.  Paul had died about 11 years earlier, and Matilda still lived in the house.  Paul Shivell took part in the event.

Forty-fifth anniversary of the birth of Paul Laurence Dunbar will be celebrated at the home of the late poet's mother, Mrs. Matilda J. Dunbar.  The afternoon program will be given under the auspices of the Federated Women's Clubs.  Paul Shivell, the New England poet and author, will speak of the deceased negro poet's gift to the world at the evening program, beginning at 8:15 o'clock.

"Famous Poet of Colored Race to be Honored Here."  June 26, 1917.  The Dayton Evening Herald (Dayton, Ohio).  Page 14.