Special Collections and University Archives

17.75 linear feet of published and unpublished materials relating to the poet Roy Zell Kemp have been donated to SCUA. Kemp (1910-1980) was raised in Greensboro, NC and spent most of his life writing religious and inspirational poetry.

Writings by Kemp include the following published items:

  • Measure of a Heart, and Other Poems, Golden Quill, 1962.
  • Shining Towers of Faith, and Other Poems, Johnson Publishing Co. (Murfreeboro, NC), 1966.
  • Measure for Living: Devotions and Poems of Affirmation, C.R. Gibson, 1967.
  • Testaments of Faith (poems), C.R. Gibson, 1970.
  • The Shield of Faith, C.R. Gibson, 1973.
  • Represented in several anthologies, including This Singing Earth, edited by Lilith Lorraine, Flame Press, 1961.
  • Rhyme Time for the Very Young, edited by Jeanne Hollyfield, Young Publications, 1964.
  • Gold Star Anthology, edited by Marie H. King, Revell, 1970.
  • Today, Well Lived, edited by William Arthur Ward, Droke, 1971.

Kemp also contributed poems to religious periodicals of various denominations, was a free-lance feature writer for newspapers in Maryland and North Carolina and reviewed books for the Greensboro Daily News, Greensboro, NC.

Kemp spoke about poetry to Contemporary Authors:
“Since poetry moves on the higher levels of power and emotion, it must be the product of a maker of ideas. The truly creative artists of the written word are gifted with the ability to take the common facts and experiences of life and invest them with epic and enduring qualities. Also, since the heart and core of inspirational poetry is a spirit of devotion and reverence, being idealistic in nature, spiritual in quality, and moral at its center, its writer must be constantly aware of the eternal secret of friendship with God. He must also be possessed with what has been termed `religious insight.’ He must not let himself be limited to any one nation or people, nor to any one age, for to do so would admit to a partiality. The appeal of inspirational poetry is universal, since universality must be expressed in its writing. Eternal vertities will ever remain the same, regardless of the change made in other things. Inspirational poetry is the true language of the heart. It is composed of emotional feeling, deep and sincere.”

  1. Roy Z Kemp is one of the most prolific poets in American literature with over 2000 published poems, over 500 published articles, and at least six published books. I think his most delightful writings were children’s poetry.

  2. I have just come across a personal letter to his sister dated March 20
    1968. Here are a few excerpts from the letter that I think beginning writers might find interesting since this shows the excitement Roy had regarding his published poems.

    I got a letter from, my publisher yesterday, and they wrote that my book was selling very well and they were extremely pleased with it’s sale. The first 20,000 copies are about sold out and they are now beginning a second printing of 15,000 copies. Imagine that! I sure was thrilled to hear that. But I knew my book was good and I had faith in it too. I hope you have gotten a copy by this time. All the stores here ordered the book, sold it out immediately and put in other orders. I tried to buy a copy Saturday for a friend at work who wanted one, but couldn’t find a copy. The company wants me to send them a small manuscript of my young children’s poetry, so I have already sent them a manuscript. I hope they will take this one and make a beautiful book of poetry with lots of illustrations. I think it would sell real good too. So far this year I have had 45 poems taken for publication. Do you ever see the lovely IDEALS magazine there any place? They’ve also just issued a beautiful little card-booklet of poems to fathers-“To Dad” with an envelope which contains one of my poems too, with a full page painting in color as an illustration. It will be on sale in the card shops. Published by IDEALS Co.

    (This is the end of the letter, the following is the poem he referred to at the end of the letter)

    A Father’s Job

    He was all questions. But small boys expect their fathers to be walking lexicons: to do two jobs at once; to give replies as they are working, whether they are laying stones or building models… digging up a shrub, or planting flower beds… Boys have a right to ask their fathers questions… Fathers are the powers that be, and with their power and might must shelter, guard, and hold and teach and love… All men with sons must learn to do these things… Too soon, too soon, a small son grows and leaves his father’s side to test his manhood’s wings.
    (copywrite 1966. Used through courtesy of Life and Health)

  3. Thanks for sharing your letter and poem! Gloria Turlington has informed me that Mr. Kemp had over 3000 published poems. Truly a prolific career!

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