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Hear@Buffalo - The Poetry Collection’s Audio Archive

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In 2009 the Poetry Collection received a Preservation and Access grant from the National Endowment for the Humanities to reformat, catalog and make accessible over 1,300 endangered cassette and reel-to-reel audio recordings of poetry materials. Dating between 1962 and 2000, the recordings fall into three categories:

  • an archive of tapes from poetry readings, lectures and other unique events that took place in the Poetry Collection and on the University at Buffalo campus or elsewhere in Western New York
  • personal recordings that poets made of their own readings over a period of time
  • and libraries of tapes collected by various individuals and groups.

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.

Occurring as they do in a particular place and time and before a particular audience, poetry readings by their nature are spontaneous events that can differ drastically from one place and location to another, and the recordings of these events offer literary scholars and students in the humanities a host of highly significant resources for research and education. Audio recordings:

  • promote the study of poetry’s performance
  • provide a wide range of extra-textual information that is nonetheless crucial to understanding a poem’s larger contexts of meaning
  • function as audible manuscripts testifying to the composition and revision habits of poets
  • document the social contexts and literary communities in which poetry takes place
  • and offer an effective resource personalizing the experience of poetry for students of all levels.

Consequently, these tapes are potentially significant for all sorts of historical, biographical and genetic scholarship, and can serve an important pedagogical use in the classroom. For research purposes, where possible the description of these items includes not just the titles of the poems read but information about the conversations that take place around them.

Recordings have been grouped accordingly based on their source in a number of the Poetry Collection’s literary archives, each of which can be searched as a sub collection above:

  • Anthony Ostroff Collection
  • Carolyn Stoloff Collection
  • Curators’ Collection
  • George F. Butterick Collection
  • Hand and Flower Press Collection
  • Helen Adam Collection
  • Intrepid Collection
  • Jargon Society Collection
  • John Logan Collection
  • Just Buffalo Collection
  • Kenneth Rexroth Collection
  • McGraw-Hill Sound Seminar Collection
  • Moody Street Irregulars Collection
  • Paul Hogan Collection
  • Poetry Collection Festivals Collection
  • Poetry Collection Recordings Collection
  • Radio Program Collection
  • Tenth Muse Collection

More collections will be digitized and added in the future as funding allows.

Streaming audio and copyright

Streaming versions of these audio recordings have been incorporated directly into their vufind catalog records. All recordings are accessible to individuals with a University at Buffalo user name and password. Unrestricted access is available for those recordings for which permission has been granted by the relevant copyright holders or for those designated as orphan works. If you are the copyright holder for any material included in this audio archive please contact the Poetry Collection at lpo-poetry@buffalo.edu. All of our audio is made available for educational purposes only and permission for any subsequent use of these recordings must be directed to the authors or their estates.

Help us improve the catalog records

If you have any suggestions for correcting or improving these catalog records please contact lpo-poetry@buffalo.edu and we will do our best to update the records in a timely manner.

Additional audio donations

The Poetry Collection is always interested in adding to our audio collection. Although we feature readings from around the country, we are especially interested in continuing to collect recordings of local poetry events in Buffalo and Western New York. If you would like to discuss such a gift of materials, please contact one of the curators at (716) 645-2917 or write to us at lpo-poetry@buffalo.edu.

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