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Special collections

What You Can Expect to Find

  • Books and pamphlets are the heart of the Poetry Library, and in the collection you will find:
  • Twentieth and twenty-first century poetry
  • Poetical works by all major and minor poets of the period
  • Small press publications, little magazines, limited editions
  • Work not stocked by other libraries, and difficult to track down via the internet or new and second-hand bookshops
  • Works in translation of the period and from pre-1912 if a modern poet has translated the poetry

Arrangement of the Collection

  • Two copies of each title (we purchase more loan copies if the poet is a major figure); the first copy for reference, the second for loan
  • The reference copy never leaves the Poetry Library and is always available to consult; the loan service operates like all good public libraries
  • There are two book and pamphlet collections, Adult and Children
  • They are organised into Reference and Loan sections by alphabet
  • Both Reference and Loan are then separated into single authors (A-Z by surname) and anthologies (A-Z by title)
  • The collection can be searched using the library catalogue by subject, genre, nationality and language here
  • The Poetry Library collects some secondary materials and critical works
  • There is a unique press cuttings collection organised using the alphabet for authors and subjects

Poetry Magazines

  • The "little" magazine is unique to poetry of the Twentieth and Twenty-first centuries
  • The Poetry Library holds hundreds of current and past titles
  • This collection is for reference and can be consulted by visiting the Poetry Library
  • The collection dates mainly from the 1950s but we are always trying to expand the collection to cover pre-50s publications
  • We aim to stock every poetry magazine currently publishing in Britain
  • Magazines from the UK are the backbone of the collection but other English-speaking countries are represented from across the World
  • New poets are strongly recommended to consult our collection: many poets start publishing with the small magazines, and established writers often "try out" new poems on readers here
  • The Poetry Library publishes a web site free to view of full-text UK poetry magazines since 1912

Posters, Postcards, Press Cuttings and Images of Poets

  • The Poetry Library acquires poems in all formats and some of these ways of producing poetry are collaborations between visual artists and poets
  • There are about 500 posters including the Poems on the Underground series
  • Postcards are a popular and cheap way of producing quality print to distribute widely. The Poetry Library holds around 600 different pieces
  • The Press Cuttings collection is unique and holds the donated Howard Sargeant collection, which covers the 1960s and 1970s
  • The Poetry Library press cuttings collection has been added to daily since 1987 and includes articles, reviews, interviews from daily and Sunday newspapers as well as literary and poetry journals
  • The Press Cuttings collection is organised alphabetically by author surname and subject
  • The Images of Poets collection is one of photographs and drawings. Included in the collection are images from the National Portrait Gallery, work by Fay Godwin and Mark Gerson as well as images from the Southbank Centre's Poetry International series

Teaching Collection

  • Our collection for teachers and student teachers includes textbooks, classroom anthologies and workbooks, resource files, and audio-visual items. It is packed with ideas for poetry activities in the classroom, and ideal for teachers searching for inspiration and confidence in their poetry lessons.
  • For more information see our Education section.

Children's Collection

  • Poetry can help develop children's literacy, aid communication and reflection, and is great fun!
  • We collect all children's poetry published in Britain, and have over 4000 children's titles. The collection is used by families, school groups, anthology editors and publishers.
  • In the children's collection you can find picture books, traditional rhymes, poems from around the world, as well as favourite British poets like Valerie Bloom, Michael Rosen, John Agard and Charles Causley.

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