Strangers to Us All Lawyers and Poetry

John William Corrington

(1932-1988)
Louisiana

dustjacket photograph

William Mills (ed.), John William Corrington: Southern Man of Letters
(Conway, Arkansas: UCA Press, 1994)

John William Corrington was born in Ohio in 1932; his family moved to Shreveport, Louisiana when he was a young boy. He may have been born in Ohio, and spent some his boyhood years there, but it was Louisiana and, more particularly, Shreveport that Corrington adopted as his spiritual and literary home. It was growing up in Shreveport that he developed a great love for that city and for the South, a love which figures prominently in his life and his writing. Corrington stayed on in Shreveport during his college years to attend Centenary College, where he met a small group of teachers whom he revered and honored throughout his life.

Corrington received a B.A. degree from Centenary College in 1956 and his M.A. from Rice University in 1960, the year he took on his first teaching position in the English Department at LSU. While on leave from LSU, Corrington obtained his D.Phil. in 1965 from the University of Sussex (England) and then, in 1966, moved to Loyola University-New Orleans as Associate Professor of English, where he also served as chair of the English Department. Corrington's early writing included poetry, novels, short stories, and academic writing that might best be labeled literary criticism. He would later write crime/detective fiction and screenplays in collaboration with his wife, Joyce Corrington.

At age forty, Corrington decided to study law. He obtained his J.D. from Tulane Law School in 1975. (Corrington's father had studied law, but was in the insurance business, and never practiced.) After graduating from Tulane Law School, Corrington practiced law in New Orleans for three years and the influence of his legal training and law practice soon found a place in his fiction. Corrington's legal fiction consists of only six short stories (a newly discovered story was published in 2002) and two novellas. The novellas, published under the title All My Trials by the University of Arkansas Press in 1987, appeared the year before his death.

Corrington gave up the practice of law after three years to pursue his TV, literary and intellectual history writing projects. He died in Malibu, California. Joyce Corrington, his wife, co-author and collaborator, survives him and continues to make her home in Malibu.


During the 1960s, Corrington taught English literature, wrote poetry, published academic papers, and wrote his first novels. His first poetry was published in 1957 and his first collection of poetry, Where We Are, appeared in 1962. Three more collections would follow: The Anatomy of Love and Other Poems (1964); Mr. Clean and Other Poems (1964); and Lines to the South and Other Poems (1965), all published while Corrington was teaching English at LSU, working on his doctorate, and getting his first novel underway. During his early years as a poet, Corrington discovered the poetry of Charles Bukowski, a poet whose work still receives attention. Corrington wrote several admiring essays about Bukowski's poetry, was active in seeing Bukowski's first major collection of poetry published, and carried on an extensive correspondence with the Buk spanning the 1960s.

Corrington's early promise as poet was displaced by his intense desire to write major fiction, and to develop his skills as a novelist. Corrington's impressive first novel, And Wait for the Night, was published in 1964, and after he joined the faculty at Loyola-New Orleans, he published two additional novels, The Upper Hand (1967) and The Bombardiers (1970), as the decade ended.

In the late 60s, Corrington's fiction came to the attention of film director/ producer Roger Corman. Corman approached Corrington about doing a screenplay about the German WW I pilot, Manfred von Richthofen ("The Red Baron") and Corrington, never one to say no to a new writing venture, talked his wife, Joyce, a chemistry professor, into working on the script with him. Working together they wrote Von Richthofen and Brown (later released as The Red Baron) and delivered the finished script to Corman in 1969. The film was released by United Artists in 1971.

In addition to his 1960s novels, the new screenwriting venture with Joyce, and his four published collections of poetry, Corrington published his first collection of short stories, The Lonesome Traveler and Other Stories in 1968 and continued to write short fiction throughout his life. During his years as an English professor, Corrington also published a steady output of academic articles and essays (and wrote, but left un-published, a significant number of theoretical and philosophical writings).

The work with Roger Corman continued in the early 1970s, and the Corringtons—working together as they did on all of Corrington's film script writing—followed up the film script for Von Richthofen and Brown (1971) with the following: The Omega Man (1970), Boxcar Bertha (1971), and The Arena (1972).

Corrington, who had never developed any great passion for teaching, growing increasingly disaffected with the situation at Loyola-New Orleans where he was battling with the Jesuits over tenure decisions in his English Department, decided to take up the study of law. It was, according to Corrington, his reading of the political philosopher Eric Voegelin that prompted his interest in the study of law.

Bill Corrington was not the typical first year law student. When he started Tulane Law School in 1972, he was forty years old, a well-published poet and novelist, a screenwriter, accomplished scholar, chair of an English department. Attending law school seems not to have left Corrington short of time and energy for his other writing pursuits. During his first year of law school, he and Joyce wrote the film script for The Battle for the Planet of the Apes (1973), and then, in his second year at Tulane, they finished work on The Killer Bees (1974).

Corrington graduated from Tulane Law School in 1975, joined a small New Orleans personal injury law firm, Plotkin & Bradley, and spend the next three years practicing law. He would never return to teaching, although he sometimes considered the possibility, thinking he might make his way back to Shreveport, or to settle somewhere in the South.

After taking up the study of law, Corrington began to make lawyers and judges (and the law) a part of his fiction. "The Actes and Monuments," Corrington's first lawyer story, was published in Sewanee Review in 1975, the year he finished law school. A second lawyer story, "Pleadings," was published in 1976 in the Southern Review, appearing during Corrington's first year as a practicing lawyer. A third story, "Every Act Whatever of Man," followed in the Southern Review in 1978, this one in the final year of his law practice. Corrington continued, throughout the 1980s, until his death in 1988, to make the lives of lawyers and judges a part of his fiction.

Corrington gave up the practice of law in 1978, and working with Joyce, they became head writers for the TV daytime drama, Search for Tomorrow (CBS). From 1978 to 1988, the Corringtons wrote scripts for Search for Tomorrow (CBS)(1978-80)(477 episodes); Another World (1980)(NBC)(23 episodes); Texas, a series they created and wrote, 1980-82 (NBC)(147 episodes); General Hospital (1982)(ABC)(54 episodes); Capitol (1982-83)(CBS)(167 episodes); One Life to Live (1984)(ABC)(98 episodes); and finally, Superior Court, a syndicated series (1986-89)(238 episodes).

During the final decade of his life, the decade he worked as a writer of daytime TV dramas, Corrington published his last major novel, Shad Sentell (1984), a collection of short stories, The Southern Reporter (1981), and two magnificent novellas featuring lawyers, published as All My Trials (1987).

Corrington, always in search of a new venture as a writer, event-ually turned to the detective genre. With a contract from Viking Press, Corrington, in partnership with Joyce, begin a series of books which featured a New Orleans police detective–Ralph "Rat" Trapp–a reporter named Wesley Colvin, and a love interest for Colvin, named Denise Lemoyne, who begins as an relatively insignificant character, but becomes Colvin's lover and, finally, an Assistant District Attorney. The first of the Corringtons' police detective, mystery novels, So Small a Carnival appeared in 1986, with A Project Named Desire and A Civil Death following in 1987. The fourth and final book in the series, The White Zone, was published in 1990, after Bill Corrington's death in 1988.

*  *  *

In 2002, the Legal Studies Forum, with the permission and assistance of Joyce Corrington, republished Bill Corrington's lawyer stories, a selection of his published and unpublished essays, and commentaries about his work and his life. In 2004, the Legal Studies Forum, published a selection of Corrington's poetry, a reminiscence and a note on Corrington's poetry by Jo LeCoeur, an essay on the writing of Corrington's last novel, Shad Sentell by Lloyd Halliburton, who was a childhood friend of Corrington's, and a bibliography of Corrington's published poetry compiled by Joyce Corrington.

*  *  *

[Note: Our thanks to Joyce Corrington for her assistance in the research and writing found in these webpages and to all those who have undertaken the study of her husband's life as a writer.]

The Corrington Award
Centenary College
Shreveport, Louisiana

[Recipients of the Corrington Award include: Eudora Welty, Ernest J. Gaines, James Dickey, Miller Williams, Lee Smith, Paul Auster, Elizabeth Spencer, Anthony Hecht, Richard Wilbur, Eleanor Wilner, Richard Powers, and C.K. Williams. The award is a bronze medal designed by Louisiana sculptor Clyde Connell.]

John William Corrington
Wikipedia

John William Corrington: A Literary Conservative
Allen Mendenhall

Poems

A Selection of John William Corrington Poems
[by James R. Elkins for publication in the Legal Studies Forum, vol. 27, 2003]

Poetry

John William Corrington, Where We Are (Washington, D.C.: Charioteer Press, 1962)

__________________, Mr. Clean and Other Poems ( San Francisco: Amber House Press, 1964)

__________________, The Anatomy of Love and Other Poems (Fort Lauderdale: Roman Books, Inc., 1964)

__________________, Lines to the South, and Other Poems (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1965)

Poems

John William Corrington, Poetry, 27 Legal Studies Forum 511-560 (2003)

Writings

John William Corrington, And Wait For the Night (London: A. Blond, 1964)(London: Panther Books, 1967)

__________________, Southern Writing in the Sixties: Fiction (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1966)(co-edited with Miller Williams)

__________________, Southern Writing in the Sixties: Poetry (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1966)(co-edited with Miller Williams)

__________________, The Upper Hand (New York: Putnam, 1967)(London: Blond, 1968)(London: Panther, 1969, 1968)

__________________, The Lonesome Traveler and Other Stories (New York: Putnam, 1968)

__________________, The Bombadier: A Novel (New York: Lancer Books, 1970)

__________________, The Acts and the Monuments: Stories (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 1978)

__________________, Shad Sentell (New York: Congdon & Weed, 1984)(published under the title Shad, London: Macmillan, 1984; Grafton, 1986, 1984)

__________________, All My Trials (Fayetteville: University of Arkansas Press, 1987)[online text of this title's two novellas: "Decoration Day" and "The Risi's Wife"]

__________________, The Collected Stories of John William Corrington (Columbia: University of Missouri Press, 1989)

__________________, The Collected Short Fiction of John William Corrington (Joyce Corrington ed., 2015)(Vol. I & II).

__________________, James Lee Babin & Robert Anthony Pascal (eds.), The Nature of the Law and Related Legal Writings (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1991)(The Collected Works of Eric Voegelin, Vol. 27).

Crime Detective Fiction

John William Corrington & Joyce H. Corrington, So Small a Carnival (New York: Viking, 1986)

__________________, A Civil Death (New York: Viking, 1987)

__________________, A Project Named Desire (New York: Viking, 1987)(Um projeto chamado Desejo, Sao Paulo: Nova Cultural, 1990)

__________________, The White Zone (New York: Viking, 1990)

Film Scripts
(all with Joyce Corrington)

John William Corrington & Joyce Corrington, Von Richthofen and Brown (United Artists, 1970)(later released as "The Red Barron," 1971) [preview]

__________________, The Omega Man (Warner Brothers, 1971) [preview]

__________________, Box Car Bertha (American International, 1972) [preview]

__________________, Battle For the Planet of the Apes (Twentieth Century Fox, 1973) [preview]

__________________, The Arena (New World Pictures, 1973)

__________________, Killer Bees (Worldvision Enterprises, 1974)

[It will be of interest to those in the legal world, that the Corringtons wrote, "Battle for the Planet of the Apes," "The Arena," and "Killer Bees" which Bill Corrington was a law student.]

Law-Related Fiction Online

Decoration Day
        26 Legal Studies Forum 1 (2002)

   The Risi's Wife
        26 Legal Studies Forum 115 (2002)

The Actes and Monuments
        26 Legal Studies Forum 181 (2002)

A Day in Thy Court
        26 Legal Studies Forum 335 (2002)

Pleadings
        26 Legal Studies Forum 211 (2002)

   Every Act Whatever of Man
        25 Legal Studies Forum 245 (2002)

Nothing Succeeds
        26 Legal Studies Forum 285 (2002)

 The Southern Reporter
        26 Legal Studies Forum 357 (2002)   

   The Absolute Vices
        26 Legal Studies Forum 395 (2002)

Bibliography

William Mills (ed.), John William Corrington: Southern Man of Letters (Conway, Arkansas: UCA Press, 1994)

Lloyd Halliburton, John William Corrington: Reflections (Ann Arbor, Michigan: XanEdu, 2003)

Bibliography: Articles

Symposium Issue: Fishing Deep Waters—John William Corrington (1932-1988), 26 Legal Studies Forum 493-912 (2002)(James R. Elkins ed.)

Joyce Corrington, The Poetry of John William Corrington: A Bibliography, 27 Legal Studies Forum 623 (2003)

William Domnarski, A Novelist's Knowing Look at the Law, 26 Legal Studies Forum 839 (2002) [originally published in 69 A.B.A. J (November, 1983)] [online text]

______________, Corrington's Lawyer as Moralist, 26 Legal Studies Forum 847 (2002)

James R. Elkins, A Great Gift: On Reading John William Corrington, 26 Legal Studies Forum 425 (2002) [online text]

____________, John William Corrington, 26 Legal Studies Forum 493 (2002) [online text]

____________, John William Corrington, 27 Legal Studies Forum 493 (2003)

____________ (ed.), The John William Corrington & Charles Bukowski Correspondence: On Poetry and Writing, 27 Legal Studies Forum 661 (2003) [online text]

Lloyd Halliburton, The Man Who Slept with Women: John William Corrington's Shad Sentell, 27 Legal Studies Forum 641 (2003) [online text]

Louise Harmon, The Canyon of Doubt: John William Corrington's The Risi's Wife, 26 Legal Studies Forum 859 (2002) [online text]

Jo LeCoeur, Fierce, Kind Friend: John William Corrington, 27 Legal Studies Forum 497 (2003) [online text]

_________, No Cross, No Crown: The Poetry of John William Corrington, 27 Legal Studies Forum 623 (2003) [online text]

Douglas Mitchell, John William Corrington's Decoration Day, 24 Legal Studies Forum 687 (2000) [online text]

Jean W. Ross, Interview, 8 Contemporary Authors: New Revision Series 114-117 (Detroit: Gale Research Company, 1983)

Research Resources

Bibliography of John William Corrington's Writings

John William Corrington Papers & Manuscripts
Magal Library, Centenary College
Shreveport, Louisiana