Poets House

November 20, 2020

We try to keep things somewhat upbeat here at The Poetry Department, but were saddened to read that Poets House, the nation’s premier poetry library, at Battery Park City in New York, has announced that it will suspend operations indefinitely, effective immediately, due to budgetary issues caused by the Coronavirus. It is hoped that the library may be able reopen late in 2021 once the pandemic is under control and Poets House has reconfigured its operations.

Though events have been suspended, online resources continue to be available, at least for the moment, including audio, video, and digital materials, such as a wonderful collection of chapbooks from the “Mimeo Revolution.”

If you like a little Scots burr in your poetry, you’ll find it nowhere finer than the Scottish Poetry Library Podcast collection. Interviews, conversations, readings, tributes, and more, from 2009 to the present.

your basic bookshelf

July 3, 2019

If you needed a guide to essential books for your poetry library, you might start with Rebecca Hussey’s 50 Must-Read Best Poetry Books, presented in Book Riot. From Sappho to recent books by living poets, the list offers a solid foundation of favorites.

For other recent Book Riot lists, see Sarah Ullery’s 50 Must-Read Poetry Collections of 2019 or Christina Orlando’s 50 of The Best Poetry Books From Authors of Contemporary Works.

next time you’re in London

December 15, 2018

It has been a few years since we mentioned the National Poetry Library in London. Founded in 1953, the library moved its expanded collection to the Royal Festival Hall at Southbank Centre in 1988, with Seamus Heaney presiding over the grand opening.

The library posts daily poems, has a free online poem collection and catalogue, assists with “lost quote” requests, has a collection of over 2,000 audio recordings, about 2,000 postcards and poem cards, some 1,500 posters, year-round events and exhibitions, and an online listing of poetry competitions.

The National Poetry Library is the largest public collection of modern poetry in the world, is open six days a week, and is free to visit.

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photo by Gapfall

At Emory University, in Atlanta, Georgia, the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library comprises some 75,000 volumes (50,000 of which are catalogued and searchable). Believed to be the largest privately-held assembly of poetry books, the collection was amassed over many years and in 2004 donated to Emory University by Mr. Danowski, who died last week.

The collection is curated by poet Kevin Young and the library hosts a variety of fellowships, readings, exhibitions, and visiting scholars. To learn more about the Library and its collection and programs, visit the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library website.

memory test

November 23, 2015

lost quotationsLocated at the Royal Festival Hall in London, The Poetry Library collects British poetry from 1912 on, including books, magazines and other media. In addition to lending services, classes, exhibits, reading and writing groups and other activities, The Poetry Library maintains a list of frequently-requested poems and a Lost Quotations page, where the answers to queries regarding poems are crowd-sourced. Have a look at Lost Quotations…maybe you can help.

a place for poetry

November 10, 2015

Scottish Poetry Library

When the Scottish Poetry Library opened in 1984, in the packing room of an Edinburgh poetry publishing company, its collection was made up of 300 donated books. Thirty-plus years later, in continuous operation and after a £500,000 renovation, the Library has 45,000 volumes — an international collection in English, Scots and Gaelic, as well as works in translation, that is available for reference and borrowing.

The Library also maintains collections of periodicals, pamphlets (chapbooks), newspaper/magazine cuttings about poetry, audio/visual materials, large print and Braille editions, children’s poetry and a number of special collections, including “a growing resource of concrete and visual poetry.” In addition, the Library has events, exhibits, a shop, classes and even a large collection of downloadable/printable poetry posters.

What’s more, if you need a poem for a special event or you’re trying to recall the title or words or author of a poem that just escapes you, the SPL’s librarians will happily assist.

This is a remarkable resource, not just for Scotland, but for the advancement and appreciation of poetry worldwide. Learn more about the Scottish Poetry Library.

make like a poet

October 8, 2015

National Poetry Day 2015

National Poetry Day — today, Thursday, October 8, 2015 — is a UK holiday, but that’s no reason to bypass the celebration. This year’s theme is Light. Here are a few options:

  • As The Guardian suggests, ‘make like a poet’ and record a “video of yourself reading out a poem for somebody you care about.”
  • The Guardian also offers a number of short films that explore the subject of light through poetry. Stephen Hawking reads “Relativity” by Sarah Howe, Samantha Morton reads “My Brilliant Image” by Hafez, and Sean Bean reads “Notes on the Art of Poetry” by Dylan Thomas.
  • In honor (honour?) of National Poetry Day, Peter Howarth examines “The rise and rise of performance poetry” in The Independent.
  • Download a free NPD poster, a photo for your Facebook profile or cover, or wallpaper from the Forward Arts Foundation.
  • Visit the website of the Scottish Poetry Library to view the eight poem-cards produced for this year’s celebration.
  • If you tweet, check out #NationalPoetryDay on Twitter.
  • If you Facebook, stop by PoetryDayUK.
  • Watch and listen to the children of Saint Augustine’s Priory School in Ealing reading “The Minister of Light,” a poem by Mona Arshi, on YouTube.
  • Write a poem.

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Farewell Firehouse

April 21, 2015

Farewell Firehouse

From 1927 to 2001 it was Fire Station No. 2. In 2002, the old Fairhaven firehouse was purchased by Matt Christman and transformed into the Firehouse Performing Arts Center.

With its beautiful floor and retractable seating system, plus the lively Firehouse Café, “the Firehouse” has served the greater Bellingham community for a decade as a venue for dance, music, poetry, other performing arts, classes, meetings and much more. The Café was home to open mics, a small poetry library and art exhibits and a home-away-from-home to scores of regulars who treasured the coffee, pastries, huge fireplace and camaraderie.

When the property was put on the market for sale, a group of Firehouse fans rallied support to purchase the building and keep it operating. But the price was steep and the Firehouse was finally sold to a buyer who will use it for another function.

To mark the closing of the Firehouse, there will be a Final Poetry Reading / Open Mic on Saturday, April 25, 2015, starting at 7:00pm. Please join local poets and Firehouse lovers for this poignant evening of farewells.

the poets’ holidays

December 12, 2014

Langston Hughes Happy Holidays

If you’re curious about how Seamus Heaney, Sylvia Plath, Langston Hughes or Charles Bukowski noted the holidays, the current exhibit at Poets House, Winter Wedding: Holiday Cards by Poets, gives some clues. The exhibit will be on view through March 21, 2015. The Guardian offers additional details on the collection.
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Holiday greetings from Langston Hughes, 1953. Photograph: Courtesy of Raymon Danowski Poetry Library, MARBL, Emory University

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