Donald M. Allen’s anthology The New American Poetry, published by Grove Press / Evergreen in the U.S.A. and the U.K., burst onto the literary scene in 1960 to become the single most important and influential book of poetry in the English language published in the second half of the 20th century.
Conceived originally as a collection intended to augment the anthologies of the 1950s with the work of American poets whose careers had flourished since the Second World War, it became, through the influence of Charles Olson (Donald Allen was his editor at Grove Press), a radical and revolutionary manifesto that echoed around the world.
spanning the period from the modernists through the poets of Origin and The Black Mountain Review, the San Francisco Renaissance, the Beat Generation, the New York poets of the Poet’s Theatre, to the first mapping and performance of a new poetry and poetics from the racial, sexual, aboriginal and cultural margins of a formerly Euro-centric and chauvinist poetry, The New American Poetry became as liberating a movement in writing and letters worldwide as abstract expressionism has been in the visual arts, and as jazz has been in music.
Poet to Publisher: Charles Olson’s Correspondence with Donald Allen tells the story of how that happened.
Ralph Maud is Emeritus Professor of English and Associate of the Institute for the Humanities at Simon Fraser University. He founded the Charles Olson Literary Society. He is the author of Charles Olson Reading (1996) and the editor of The Selected Letters of Charles Olson (2000.) He has edited much of Dylan Thomas’s work, including The Notebook Poems 1930–1934 and The Broadcasts, and is co-editor, with Walford Davies, of Dylan Thomas: The Collected Poems, 1934–1953 and Under Milk Wood. Maud is also the editor of The Salish People: Volumes I, II, III & IV by pioneer ethnographer Charles Hill-Tout. He has been a contributing editor to Coast Salish Essays by Wayne Suttles, The Chilliwacks and Their Neighbours by Oliver Wells, and is the author of A Guide to B.C. Indian Myth and Legend, and The Porcupine Hunter and Other Stories—a collection of Henry W. Tate’s stories in Tate’s original English, which grew out of his survey of Franz Boas’s Tsimshian work, published as an article: “The Henry Tate-Franz Boas Collaboration on Tsimshian Mythology” in American Ethnologist. Maud’s subsequently published book, Transmission Difficulties: Franz Boas and Tsimshian Mythology, expands further on the relationship between Henry Tate and Franz Boas.
“The letters make fascinating reading for their commentary on writers…and literary issues from 1957 to 1969 … ”
“More than forty years after its first publication, Donald Allen’s The New American Poetry, 1945–1960 continues actively in print. Here is Allen’s collected correspondence with the master poet Charles Olson, which so shaped and defined that initiating work. Together, they undertook to change the formal disposition of poetry and so brought forward those then unknowns, who were to ‘make it new’ for American poets in all the years since.”
Tell us what you think!
Sign Up or Sign In to add your review or comment.
Related Blog Posts