Poetry Foundation Library

Although public libraries are obviously the most popular types of libraries, there are so many other types of unique libraries that exist.  Many of these are research libraries, which do not allow you to take their materials home, but do allow you to use their materials while inside the library.  The Poetry Foundation Library in Chicago falls under this category of libraries.

Although the Poetry Foundation Library has only existed since 2011, its history goes back to nearly 100 years before that.  In 1912, a Chicagoan named Harriet Monroe decided to publish a monthly magazine called Poetry, which took poetry submissions from anyone, and then published the best ones.  Many poets submitted their poetry to the magazine before they were yet famous, such as Ezra Pound, Carl Sandburg, and T. S. Eliot.  Today, the magazine is one of the leading poetry magazines written in English.

The office of Poetry magazine has changed over the years and was even housed at the Newberry Library in Chicago at one point.  In 2003, with the help of a grant, the Poetry Foundation was created.  Its goal is to publish Poetry magazine, as well as to promote poetry.  The Poetry Foundation built the library to help it accomplish this mission.  Today, the library building houses the publishing department of Poetry magazine, as well as all of the poetry submissions that it has ever received for the magazine.  However, its collection of 30,0000 volumes also includes the best poetry ever written.

Prior to COVID-19, anyone could visit the Poetry Foundation Library during its regular hours and use its resources while in the study area.  However, staff worked hard to ensure that the library remain a quiet space. In addition to regular visiting hours, the Poetry Foundation Library also hosted different literary events and exhibits throughout the year.

The Poetry Foundation has some interesting resources availble on its website.  For example, it has a Glossary of Poetic Terms.  It also has brief biographies of many famous poets.  Apparently, if you are interested, you can sign up to receive a different “Poem of the Day” emailed to your inbox.  Hopefully, once the COVID-19 pandemic is put under control, the Poetry Foundation Library can resume its regular activities.

Sources and Further Reading

“History and Mission.” Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/foundation/about (accessed February 13, 2021).

“A History of the Magazine.” Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poetrymagazine/history (accessed February 13 2021).

“Poetry Foundation Library.” Atlas Obscura. https://www.atlasobscura.com/places/poetry-foundation-library (accessed February 13 2021).

“Poetry Foundation Library.” Poetry Foundation. https://www.poetryfoundation.org/library (accessed February 13 2021).


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