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Grant to make key literary archives accessible to the world

By December 14, 2016September 16th, 2023No Comments

Covers for the first three issues of The Fifties: A Magazine of Poetry and General Opinion, edited by Robert Bly and William Duffy. Courtesy of the Robert Bly papers (Mss081), Upper Midwest Literary Archives, University of Minnesota Libraries, Minneapolis, Minnesota.

The University of Minnesota Libraries has received an $88,000 Minnesota Historical and Cultural Grant to increase access to the archives of three pivotal Minnesota poets and one premier literary press: Robert Bly, Margaret Hasse, Bill Holm, and Milkweed Editions. The materials for each are held in the Libraries’ Upper Midwest Literary Archives in Elmer L. Andersen Library.

The project, Prairie Poets and Press: Literary Lives of the Upper Midwest, will allow Libraries staff to uncover and provide access to Minnesota’s creative and prolific literary community for researchers here and around the world.

“The archives of Bly, Hasse, Holm, and Milkweed beautifully illustrate the interconnected relationships among writers, the relationship between poet and press, and the impact of a distinctly Minnesotan landscape that flows throughout their work,” said Kathryn Hujda, co-curator for the Upper Midwest Literary Archives. “The poetry of Holm and Bly, for example, demonstrate a strong connection to place and an unapologetic love for rural Minnesota.”

Collections chosen are in high demand

Hujda said that these collections were chosen for the project because of high user demand and because of the significant amount of time required to fully process them. She said the four collections comprise about 350 linear feet of materials that include: drafts, manuscripts, correspondence, publications, audio and video recordings, notebooks, journals, press clippings, and more.

“These collections provide insight into the poetic practice as well as the inner workings of our literary community,” Hujda said. “Thanks to this grant, our work will reveal the possibilities hidden within these collections in innovative and even game-changing ways.”

During the project, the materials will be arranged and described in detail, with inventories for each made available online. Collections will be surveyed to assess issues of copyright that could impede researchers and future large-scale digitization initiatives. In addition to removing these barriers to access, this project will also include the development of forward-thinking strategies to promote use of these collections in scholarly research, in the classroom, and in the community.

The year-long project, led by Hujda and Curator Cecily Marcus, will begin in January 2017.

Mark Engebretson

Author Mark Engebretson

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