cover of book

Wild Intelligence: Poets' Libraries and the Politics of Knowledge in Postwar America
by M. C. Kinniburgh
University of Massachusetts Press, 2022
eISBN: 978-1-61376-933-1 | Paper: 978-1-62534-655-1 | Cloth: 978-1-62534-656-8
Library of Congress Classification Z997.2.U6
Dewey Decimal Classification 027.173


Information science was a burgeoning field in the early years of the Cold War, and while public and academic libraries acted as significant sites for the information boom, it is unsurprising that McCarthyism and censorship would shape what they granted readers access to and acquired. Wild Intelligence traces a different history of information management, examining the privately assembled collections of poets and their knowledge-building practices at midcentury.

Taking up case studies of four poets who began writing during the 1950s and 1960s, including Charles Olson (1910–1970), Diane di Prima (1934–2020), Gerrit Lansing (1928–2018), and Audre Lorde (1934–1992), M. C. Kinniburgh shows that the postwar American poet’s library should not just be understood according to individual books within their collection but rather as an archival resource that reveals how poets managed knowledge in a growing era of information overload. Exploring traditions and systems that had been overlooked, buried, occulted, or censored, these poets sought to recover a sense of history and chart a way forward.

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