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"The New American Poetry is a crucial cultural document, central to defining the poetics and the

broader cultural dynamics of a particular historical moment."Alan Golding

Schooling Donald Allen


Re-Locating Mid-Century Poetry Networks
Lisa Chinn, Brian Croxall, Rebecca Sutton Koeser, and Kevin Young

Donald Allen, editor of The New American Poetry

How did poetry happen?


Donald Allens seminal 1960 anthology The New American Poetry,
1945-1960 grouped 44 relatively unknown authors into schools of poetry,
based as much on location as on aesthetics. Allens taxonomy of poetry
influenced an entire generations view of literary history.
But how accurate is Allens representation of the field of poetry? What
networks emerge if we consider the publications that published midcentury American poetry? Do people really stay in tight, geographically
defined clusters? Or is there cross-continental pollination?

How did the project happen?


Schooling Donald Allen is an attempt to make sense of Allens
classifications of poetry over and against a more complete record of what
was published in the years preceding and following his anthology.
Our model of Allens version of mid-century poetry

What have we learned?


From preliminary results Allens schools
are limited, but we also see this as a
chance to build on his work of providing a
better understanding of the period as a
whole. And this project serves as a test
case for how big data approaches can be
applied to archives of rare materials that
have yet to be digitized.

Using the little magazines in the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library at


Emory University we created a Django database of all the work published
in 12 influential, mid-century poetry journals that scholars have associated
with Allens schools, including publication information (editors, authors,
titles of individual poems and essays, literary allusions, and places of
publication) and collected in MARBLs (Emorys Manuscript, Archives, and
Rare Book Library) Raymond Danowski Poetry Library. We captured over
4,000 published items using the editorial guidelines that we created.
The visualization on the left shows the schools as conceptualized by
Donald Allen. The visualization on the right shows our results from data
collected from the 12 influential mid-century journals.

Our model of mid-century poetry based on 12 journals

Work to Come
A dedicated website for the project is
under development. It will include
interactive visualizations, display the
contents of the journals, and provide
essays analyzing the extent to which the
literary communities in the data reflect or
deviate from Allens schools.

The magazine[s] both created that circle and connected people to us that we didnt even know. Amiri Baraka