- Osiris at the Roller Derby (1983)
- Driving to Biloxi (1967)
- Pocahontas and Other Poems (published by Virgina Gazette 1957)
- Address to a Cannon
- And Now Art’s Rising Cross Is Dead
- Are We Not in Times of Mass Carnage
- As Slowly the Dark Muscle Grew
- At the Logical Wall
- At the Seed and Feed
- Child at Riverbed
- The Bracelet
- Bright Pavilions
- A Child Flies in a Tree
- The Creative Dialogue
- The Dead Endure the Ecstatic
- Death Massque for Poets
- Dialogue for Winter and many others
Joseph Edgar Simmons was born on May 21, 1921, in Natchez, Mississippi. A poet and teacher, he taught English at DePauw College, William and Mary College, Southern Illinois University at Carbondale, and Mississippi College in Clinton, Mississippi. He regularly wrote to John Crowe Ransom asking for comments about his poetry and philosophical writings. He also requested for recommendations from Ransom when he was applying for new teaching positions.
In 1967, J. Edgar Simmons was hired by the University of Texas at El Paso to head the new Creative Writing Program. He began, with the cooperation of the Literary society, and the Student Association, a literary magazine entitled Goodbye Dove. Much of the writing published in the magazine came from Simmons’s creative writing classes. He was the director of the program from 1967 to 1969, when he left the University of Texas. J. Edgar Simmons taught Mississippi writer Barry Hannah and also influenced student and later poet in his own right, Stephen Owen, who was born in Starkville in 1946.
Simmons was a friend of the poet James Dickey and more or less in jest, stated in a 1967 New Republic article that Dickey would make as ideal third-party candidate to replace L. B. Johnson as president. Simmons did honor Dickey by inviting him to read at the University of Texas in El Paso on May 12, 1967, and arranged for Judson Williams, the city’s mayor, to proclaim May 12, 1967, “James Dickey Day.”
Simmons was a recognized poet in his own right. His book Pocohontas and Other Poems was published in 1957 by the Virginia Gazette. His book Driving to Biloxi, published by the University of Virginia Press in 1967, won the Texas Institute of Letters Award and was a finalist for the National Book Awards. Cedarhouse Press published Osiris at the Rollar Derby in 1983. His poems appeared in fourteen anthologies and over seventy-five journals. His poem City lovers appeared in the April 1968 issue of Harper’s Magazine.
He died in 1979 in a V. A. hospital. In 1983, Simmons was inducted in the Copiah-Lincoln Literary Hall of Fame.
- Poem by Simmons called Talking Through Chaucer’s Hat
- Simmons influenced student and poet Stephen Owen, born in Starkville in 1946
- John Crowe Ransom and Joseph Edgar Simmons Correspondence Collection (Vanderbilt)