Pecha Kucha: Hear @ Buffalo: The Poetry Collection’s Audio Migration Project

James Maynard, University at Buffalo, SUNY

In 2009, the Poetry Collection of the University Libraries, University at Buffalo, The State University of New York, received a $202,241 Preservation and Access grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities for a two-year project to reformat, catalog and make accessible 1,000+ cassette and reel-to-reel audio recordings of poetry materials dating back to the early 1960s. Capturing poetry readings, lectures, interviews, conferences and other literary events, these tapes document the development of innovative and avant-garde poetries and their communities throughout the second half of the twentieth century as well as Buffalo’s role within that history. Readings by both canonical and non-canonical poets are featured in the collection, including such prominent American and international figures as John Ashbery, Robert Bly, Basil Bunting, Robert Creeley, Diane Di Prima, Ed Dorn, Robert Duncan, Allen Ginsberg, Robert Graves, Denise Levertov, Robert Lowell, Frank O’Hara, Charles Olson, George Oppen, Kenneth Rexroth, Gary Snyder, Diane Wakoski and Louis Zukofsky.

This session will provide an overview of the audio migration project in general—its technical, cataloging, and copyright challenges—while highlighting its most innovative and creative aspects (which, I believe, are what secured us the NEH grant in the first place).

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