Digital Danowski “Schooling Donald Allen: Re-Locating Mid-Century Poetry Networks”

In conjunction with Emory’s Center for Digital Scholarship (ECDS), the Danowski Poetry Library (a part of the Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library) has instituted the “Digital Danowski” initiative, in which the Danowski Poetry Library will be available for use in digital humanities projects.  As the research lead for “Schooling Donald Allen,” a data visualization project part of the Digital Danowski initiative, examines whether Donald Allen’s categories in his New American Poetry 1945-1960 hold up under the scrutiny of places in which these poets were published. Allen organized the anthology by different “schools,” that he thought would be logical ways to understand poetic creation in the middle of the century (see xii-xiii). For this project, we used the Danowski Poetry Library to consider the nature of four schools of poetry: The Black Mountain School, the Beats, the New York School, and the San Francisco Renaissance.

To do this, we examined several journals that are considered representative of each movement or school. We created a database of bibliographic metadata about the publications that made it possible to see how poets and their work intersect. Recording which poets publish where, who edits what works, who dedicates poems to one another, among others, will allow us to see where there is cross-pollination among the different “schools” and possibly give the lie to Allen’s taxonomy. After compiling, these data we used social network analysis to visualize how these different schools related to one another. “Schooling Donald Allen” begins the process of de-centering the understanding of midcentury poetry through its more holistic consideration of poets’ networks of affinities.

Digital Danowski is in the process of creating a website which will show the results of the project, which will include data visualization graphs that show the networks between poets. Preliminary results show Amiri Baraka centered throughout the schools, giving credence to the coinage that this era is “the Baraka era.” Included here is the poster presentation that I gave at the Digital Humanities Summer Institute (DHSI)  in June. You can also download a copy HERE.