The Poetry Library

By Valencia, Miriam | NATE Classroom, Spring 2008 | Go to article overview

The Poetry Library


Valencia, Miriam, NATE Classroom


In June of last year, the reopening of the Royal Festival Hall was celebrated with a weekend of music, dancing and poetry. The newly refurbished Festival Hall is part of Southbank Centre, a multidisciplinary arts centre that also encompasses the Queen Elizabeth Hall, Purcell Room and Hayward Gallery, managing a site which runs from the London Eye along to the book market under Waterloo Bridge. Also part of Southbank Centre is the Saison Poetry Library, which houses the Arts Council's Poetry Collection.

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The Poetry Library was founded in 1953, with the aim of promoting modern and contemporary poetry. The library had various locations but came to its current home, on the fifth floor of the Royal Festival Hall, in 1988. Our primary goal is to collect anything that includes poetry, written in or translated into English, published from 1912 onwards. As well as books and pamphlets the collection--now standing at approximately 1000,000 items--includes audio-visual material (CDs of poets reading their work, recordings of performances, animated poem-films); the UK's largest open access collection of poetry magazines (from home-made photocopied sheets to glossy magazines); poem postcards, posters and images of poets. More unusual formats for poetry publishing are also represented--ask to see our poems printed on t-shirts or our poetry magazine in a baked bean tin!

20 years ago, the library was given the care of the Signal Poetry Collection of children's poetry books previously located in Book House. From this core has developed an impressive collection of children's books that is well used by families, schools, anthologists, illustrators and teachers. It includes collections and anthologies of children's poetry, rhyming picture books and traditional rhymes and riddles from around the world. …

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