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Good News, Poetry Scholars: University of Wisconsin-Madison Acquires Woodland Pattern Archive

By Harriet Staff

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Amazing news from the University of Wisconsin-Madison: The UW–Madison libraries have acquired the archive of Milwaukee’s Woodland Pattern Book Center (founded in 1979 by Karl Gartung, Anne Kingsbury, and Karl Young, and still going strong). “The archive documents the varied activities of Woodland Pattern Book Center over its first thirty-plus years, and will be cataloged, preserved, and made available to researchers in the Department of Special Collections in Memorial Library. The archive contains correspondence with writers and artists, manuscripts, fine press broadsides, audio recordings of events and readings, scrapbooks and albums, posters, press releases and newsletters, business records, grant proposals, and more.” Some background:

The name Woodland Pattern comes from a passage in Paul Metcalf’s 1976 epic Apalache: “South of Lake Superior, a culture center, the Woodland Pattern, with poetry but without agriculture….” Metcalf gave the first Woodland Pattern poetry reading in 1979. The correspondence and recordings in the collection represent a who’s who of contemporary writers, artists, and performers. The audio archives are of particular interest as Charles Bernstein, co-director of the PennSound project at the University of Pennsylvania attests: “The Woodland Pattern audio recordings will be a substantial addition to the archive of postwar American poetry: this is a major acquisition.”

“The Libraries are very excited about this singular opportunity to preserve unique primary source materials for research, teaching, and scholarship,” notes Susan Barribeau, English Language Humanities Librarian at UW–Madison. “This collection provides an extraordinary window into recent American poetry, publishing, and performance.” Professor Lynn Keller, Martha Meier Renk-Bascom Professor of Poetry of UW-Madison says, “What a boost for contemporary poetry studies at this university!” And from Professor Jesse Lee Kercheval, Sally Mead Hands Professor of English at UW-Madison: “I am delighted about the archives from Woodland Pattern coming to UW!”

The Woodland Pattern archive complements other collections in the Department of Special Collections, including the extensive and nationally known Little Magazines Collection and holdings of the works of fine presses in Wisconsin and elsewhere. “Teaching in the humanities and arts on campus draws more and more on rare and unpublished materials,” notes Robin Rider, Curator of Special Collections, “and we expect faculty and students in literary studies and performance to engage actively with the Woodland Pattern collection.” The Libraries’ strong collection of contemporary artists’ books (in Kohler Art Library) and the Silver Buckle Press (part of Memorial Library) likewise relate to the activities and archive of Woodland Pattern.

An exhibit in Special Collections to accompany the acquisition will be running through Feb. 7. Here’re more details on “Woodland Pattern Broadsides: Thirty Years of Poets Reading.” And for a deeper introduction to the midwest poetry mainstay, you mustn’t miss this interview at HTMLGIANT with Woodland Pattern’s Rob Baumann.

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Posted in Poetry News on Monday, November 18th, 2013 by Harriet Staff.