Donald M. Allen, editor of poetry anthologies
Saturday September 04, 2004
SAN FRANCISCO (AP) Donald M. Allen, a poetry editor who celebrated the Beat writers, edited Jack Kerouac and published an acclaimed anthology of American poetry, died Aug. 29 in San Francisco after suffering from pneumonia. He was 92.
Allen, who was born in the small town of Cherokee, Iowa, had a lifelong interest in literature. He earned his bachelor's and master's degrees in English literature from the University of Iowa and taught English for many years.
He first made a name for himself as editor at Grove Press in New York, where he published the acclaimed anthology, ``The New American Poetry 1945-1960.'' The collection introduced writers from the Beat Generation and the New York and Black Mountain schools.
``I think Donald was the best editor for poetry of the last few decades. He put certain poets on the map and put a more experimental, avant-garde poetry on the map,'' Marjorie Perloff, author and professor emeritus at Stanford, where some of Allen's manuscripts and correspondence are housed. Others of his papers are held at the University of California, San Diego.
Allen edited Kerouac's ``Mexico City Blues'' and the San Francisco issue of Evergreen Review, which contained the first separate printing of Allen Ginsberg's poem ``Howl.''
He also founded two influential literary presses, Grey Fox Press and Four Seasons Foundation, which published Gary Snyder, Kerouac, Ginsberg, O'Hara, Robert Duncan, Philip Whalen, Philip Lamantia, Lew Welch and Joanne Kyger. The presses also published works on philosophy, Buddhism and seminal gay and lesbian titles. Allen also edited author Richard Brautigan's first four books.
``Donald always stayed around poets and was really entertained by them,'' said poet Barbara Guest. ``He was always gathering the poets together and listening to their stories. He just simply enjoyed the conversation. He encouraged people.''
Mr. Allen's sister, Kathryn Payne, said her brother had a full and rich life. The life spanned from the town of 7,000 people in rural Iowa to China, where he taught English. ``He was very intelligent and as long as I can remember was interested in books,'' Payne said.
Mr. Allen was the oldest of the family's five children. Payne, who is 88, is the surviving family member.
(Copyright 2004 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)
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