Collection Spotlight: Archive for New Poetry

A collaborative novel typed on a roll of toilet paper; collage art on a folding fan; journal entries detailing self-doubt and fear; letters between families, lovers, and friends; drafts of applications to the Guggenheim Foundation. These are just a sampling of the types of items one finds in the Archive for New Poetry (ANP) in Special Collections & Archives at the UC San Diego Library.

The Archive for New Poetry, a research collection of post-1945 experimental American poetry and poetics, was established in 1968 when professor of literature Roy Harvey Pearce and the UC San Diego Department of Literature worked with the Library to initiate a collection that would support undergraduate instruction and advanced scholarly studies. In the ensuing 52 years, the collection has grown to include more than 30,000 volumes, 2,000 broadsides, 1,800 serials, 1,500 audio recordings, and several miles of manuscript/archival materials, with more material being added on almost a monthly basis.

The ANP primarily focuses on “New American” poets, such as the Objectivists, New York School, Black Mountain, and L=A=N=G=U=A=G=E poets. The collection is used extensively by independent scholars and researchers from national and international universities, as well as by students and faculty at UC San Diego.

Undergraduate and graduate classes and scholars peruse notebooks and first drafts of celebrated writers to glean the secrets of a particular poem or essay and to understand the internal creative processes of literary giants. They investigate early concrete and kinetic poetry to figure out how the latest technologies—be it a mimeograph, tape recorder, word processor, or computer—can change the experiences of expression and communication. Often, the students are writers themselves and leave the ANP with a greater sense of the possibilities that await them in their own artistic pursuits.

Ultimately, the ANP is about more than just poetry; it is about the connections that the poets have with each other—evident in the extensive correspondence spanning the collection—and the experiences of their day-to-day lives and cultural moments. One poet records the audio of the first moon landing. Another writes to friends about going through menopause. One writes through his diagnosis of Alzheimer’s disease. Many write to each other about jobs lost and jobs found; their parents and children; their illnesses; their writing and editorial processes; their trips around the world; politics; and even their own write-in campaign for president. It’s the documentation of their poetic endeavors alongside their lived lives that creates such a rich stew for students and scholars.

Interested in learning more about the Archive for New Poetry? Visit for an overview of the collection and bibliographic access to these materials provided through Roger, the Library‘s online catalog.