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Poetry Collection receives grant to catalogue literary magazine archives

Collage of literary magazine covers

Literary magazines that the Poetry Collection will catalogue. Image: James Maynard, Poetry Collection

By CORY NEALON

Published February 17, 2014

Mike Basinski
“These archives document 50 years of poetic history. ”
Michael Basinski, curator
Poetry Collection

As writers, Susan Howe and Charles Bukowski don’t have much in common. Yet both wrote poems for small press periodicals called “little literary magazines” before achieving mainstream success.

Unfortunately, the contents of many of these magazines, which serve as a proving ground for writers and budding literary movements, aren’t well known outside of their literary communities.

That is starting to change, thanks to UB’s Poetry Collection, which received a $150,600 grant from the Council on Library and Information Resources (CLIR) to create online records for the editorial archives of 11 such collections, including magazines that featured the work of Howe and Bukowski.

“These archives document 50 years of poetic history. They represent different socio-aesthetic communities, from feminist to academic avant-garde to verbo-visual poetry, and they have served the careers of countless poets,” says Michael Basinski, curator of the Poetry Collection.

UB was among 22 organizations to receive funding from CLIR, which reviewed 75 proposals nationwide for its Cataloguing Hidden Special Collections and Archives program.

“Cataloging these literary magazines will immediately impact scholarship in the field of post-World War II American poetry,” says James Maynard, associate curator of the Poetry Collection, who along with Basinski and Amy Vilz, university archivist, worked on the grant application.

UB will use the grant money to buy supplies and hire a project archivist.

The archivist will work with two graduate students, as well as Maynard, Basinski, Vilz and Marie Elia, a processing archivist in the Poetry Collection, to create online finding aids for the 11 magazines’ editorial and business records.

The 11 magazines, published at various times from 1960 to 2010, in the Poetry Collection’s archives are:

  • Boss (New York, 1966-79)
  • Buckle”, Buckle & (Buffalo, 1977-82, 1998-2006)
  • Chain (Philadelphia, 1994-2005)
  • Drafting (Baltimore, 2004-05)
  • Fire Exit (Boston, 1968-75)
  • First Intensity (Lawrence, Kan., 1993-2007)
  • Lost & Found Times (Columbus, Ohio, 1975-2005)
  • Manroot (San Francisco, 1969-81)
  • Osiris (Schenectady, N.Y., 1972-2010)
  • Score (Oakland, Calif., 1983-90)
  • The Wormwood Review (Stockton, Calif., 1960-99).

Winner of Yale University’s Bollingen Prize in American Poetry in 2011 and a UB professor emerita, Howe is a celebrated academic, essayist and critic who is lauded for her innovative and unconventional poetry style. Her work is featured in a 1974 edition of Fire Exit.

Described by Time magazine as the “laureate of American lowlife,” Bukowski was a larger-than-life literary figure whose novels, poetry and short stories endure in popularity, despite his death 20 years ago. He has been the subject of movies, including “Barfly” and “Factotum.” His work is featured in The Wormwood Review, which also published works by E.E. Cummings, Gregory Corso and Henry Miller.

Two of the magazines the Poetry Collection is processing have Buffalo connections.

Buckle”, as well as its second incarnation, Buckle &, were published by retired SUNY Buffalo State English professor Bernhard Frank.

Chain was founded and published by Jena Osman and Juliana Spahr; both received PhDs in English in poetics from UB. Osman is a professor of English and creative writing at Temple University; Spahr is an English professor at Mills College.