New York: Grove Press, 1960. First Edition. Hardcover. Two volumes, octavo. Both: xxiii, 454 pages. Hardcover: dust wrapper slightly torn at head of crown. Softcover: spine creased, with minor cracking. Attractive copies, suitable for exhibition. Very good / Very good. Item #294
¶ Two significant copies of one of the most important anthologies of American poetry ever published.
* Ad 1: First edition (Softcover issue), THIS COPY SIGNED BY NINE CONTRIBUTORS: ALLEN GINSBERG, JOHN ASHBERY, LAWRENCE FERLINGHETTI, ROBERT CREELEY, KENNETH KOCH, MICHAEL McCLURE, JONATHAN WILLIAMS, GARY SNYDER, AND PHILIP WHALEN.
* Ad 2: First edition (Hardcover issue), a rare copy SIGNED BY DONALD ALLEN, the compiler and editor, with an unpublished letter by Allen (photocopy) concerning the publication history of this Anthology and the royalties that each poet received.
* "There was no more significant poetry anthology in the second half of the twentieth-century than THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY 1945-1960, edited by Donald M. Allen and published by the Grove Press in 1960. Poised at almost mid-century, it provides a summing up of a very particular situation in poetry as it looks back to the achievements of the 1950s and ahead to the possibilities of the 60s. The goal, according to Allen, was to present one common characteristic: a total rejection of all those qualities typical of academic verse. Allen's anthology was prophetic in another way. It assigned poets to large overall groupings that have persisted for nearly forty years and have entered the critical nomenclature: Black Mountain, San Francisco Renaissance, Beat Generation, and New York Poets - as well as identifying a group of younger poets 'who have been associated with and in some cases influenced by the leading writers of the preceding groups' (p. xiii). When the Allen anthology came out, several of the featured poets had barely been published" (source: 'A Secret Location on the Lower East Side: Adventures in Writing, 1960-1980,' NYPL and Granary Books). * Allen's compilation, with its appended statements on poetry by various literary luminaries, served to define the canon for two generations of readers, scholars, and critics. Olson, Duncan, Ginsberg, Kerouac, Everson / Antoninus, Blackburn, O'Hara... the list goes on and on. Allen introduced countless thousands to new voices, and deepened appreciation for yet others. * The fascinating letter by Allen is dated 10 April 1998 and reads: "The contract I'd signed with Grove Press gave me an advance of only $1,000.00 which did not provide much of a payment to the 44 poets. Robert Duncan had more faith in the success of the anthology and wanted much more. After talking with Denise Levertov about how New Directions paid contributors to their Annuals by pro-rating the royalties earned, I decided to pro-rate two-thirds of the royalties earned annually by THE NEW AMERICAN POETRY to the poets at a rate of so much per page of poetry. And continued pro-rating the royalties until the book went out of print in 1980 and was superseded by THE POSTMODERNS, co-edited with George Butterick." Interestingly, one page of the Ginsberg section (p. 181) is marked up in red pencil, as if it was to be omitted in a reading or later edition.
* AN IMPORTANT SET OF BOTH ISSUES OF THE FIRST EDITION, SIGNED BY NINE POETS AND THE COMPILER / EDITOR.