Jump to content

The New American Poetry 1945–1960

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
The New American Poetry 1945–1960
First edition
AuthorDonald Allen (editor)
Genrepoetry anthology
PublisherNY: Grove Press
Publication date
May 29, 1960
Publication placeUnited States

The New American Poetry 1945–1960 is a poetry anthology edited by Donald Allen and published in 1960.[1] It aimed to pick out the "third generation" of American modernist poets, and included quite a number of poems fresh from the little magazines of the late 1950s. In the longer term it attained a classic status, with critical approval and continuing sales. It was reprinted in 1999. As of 2024, Edward Field and Gary Snyder are the only contributors still living.



In 1958, Allen began work on The New American Poetry anthology. Following the Pound/Williams tradition, Allen hoped to present the range of experimental writing produced in the United States since the Second World War. The project took two years to complete and required extensive correspondence with poets, editors, and literary agents. The book was finally published in 1960, and, in addition to the poems, included a brief Preface by Allen, position-statements by some of the contributors, biographical notes, and an Index. Other considerations were taken into account in the organization of this anthology, as the following quotation illustrates:

Those included in this ground-breaking anthology were chosen from among about three distinct groupings: Black Mountain, New York School, and San Francisco Renaissance.[2] In the first group--Creeley, Blackburn, Duncan, Eigner, Levertov, Olson, Oppenheimer, Dorn, Wieners and Jonathan Williams. Among the second: Ashbery, Guest, O'Hara, Schuyler, Koch. From San Francisco: Spicer, Ginsberg, Whalen, Welch, Snyder, Meltzer, Lamantia, Loewinsohn, Everson (Brother Antoninus), Broughton, McClure, etc. Also present, though perhaps slightly less affiliated: Field, Corso, Sorrentino. So divided was the literary politics of the day that not one of these voices appeared in its parallel anthology, the Hall-Pack-Simpson volume. A tribute to Allen's prescience is that nearly every poet in this gathering is now a familiar figure.[3]

At the time of its publication, it increased the recognition for the Black Mountain poets - especially Robert Duncan, Robert Creeley, Denise Levertov, Paul Blackburn, and Charles Olson - by identifying their contributions to a distinct literary movement,[4] making them recognized figures in what was then an emerging countertradition.[5] Allen originally planned to publish revised anthologies every two or three years. However, he produced only two such books over the next twenty years: New American Writing (Penguin, 1965), and The Postmoderns (Grove, 1965).[6]

The anthology was also influential in Canada. "It affected the writing of at least one generation of Canadian poets", according to The Canadian Encyclopedia. The anthology influenced many Canadian poets to turn away from British influences and toward American models.[7]

See also

  • Charters, Ann (ed.). The Portable Beat Reader. Penguin Books. New York. 1992. ISBN 0-670-83885-3 (hc); ISBN 0-14-015102-8 (pbk)


  1. ^ Allen, Donald M. (1960). The New American Poetry. New York: Grove Press. ISBN 0394172256. OCLC 263411449. Retrieved 27 November 2021.
  2. ^ perhaps of tangential consideration, the rubric "New American Poetry" also refers to poets of the Beat Generation.
  3. ^ Description from a bookseller[dead link]
  4. ^ Schutz, Lacy (2017-07-26), "Black Mountain Poetry", Oxford Research Encyclopedia of Literature, doi:10.1093/acrefore/9780190201098.013.580, ISBN 978-0-19-020109-8, retrieved 2024-02-16
  5. ^ Today, The New American Poetry is recognized both as a cultural artifact and signpost for future generations. In other words, a poetry originating with Ezra Pound, William Carlos Williams, Louis Zukofsky and expanding through the lives and works of Olson, George Oppen & the "Objectivists", Duncan, Creeley, Allen Ginsberg, Levertov, and others (specifically post-World War II), in turn extending toward the Language poets among others
  6. ^ "Register of Donald Allen Collection - MSS 3". libraries.ucsd.edu. Retrieved 2015-06-06.
  7. ^ Barbour, Douglas, and D.M.R. Bentley, W. J. Keith, Michael Gnarowski,"The New Generation: After 1960", article in The Canadian Encyclopedia, retrieved February 8, 2009