09 September 2004

In Memoriam: Donald Allen

From the NY Times:
Donald Merriam Allen, a poetry editor whose 1960 anthology of the era's contemporary and avant-garde poets remains a milestone in American letters, died on Aug. 29 in San Francisco. He was 92. ...

Mr. Allen's handiwork caused a literary stir and upset the poetry establishment in particular. It spotlighted some large new talents culled from small magazines and lent a degree of respectability even to fringe lyricists from San Francisco and its environs.
The anthology in question is The New American Poetry, 1945-1960, an anthology that in some ways still has not been surpassed as a snapshot of certain types of writing at a particular time in American history. Allen later edited The Postmoderns: The New American Poetry Revised, as well as books on specific authors -- my own favorite is The Collected Poems of Frank O'Hara.

The geography of American poetry would have been different without Donald Allen's guidebooks.