Monday, December 10, 2012

Poetry Magazine Archive

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Visit our Tour Destination: Illinois page to see the entire tour of the state’s
Save America’s Treasures sites.

The first issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse,
published in October 1912.

Poetry Magazine Archive
Special Collections Research Center
University of Chicago Library
1100 East 57th Street
Chicago, IL

Guide to the Poetry (a finding aid to the collection)

Poetry Foundation (publisher of Poetry magazine)

The Treasure:  The Special Collections Research Center at the University of Chicago preserves approximately 120,000 pages of manuscripts, letters, and editorial files from the first fifty years (1912-1961) of Poetry magazine, including historic documents from many of the world’s most acclaimed 20th century poets.

Accessibility:  The Special Collections Research Center is open Monday through Friday from 9 to 4:45, and on Saturday mornings while classes are in session. Changing exhibits highlight material from their many collections. Consult their website for information on requesting copies of collection material for research purposes.

Background:  The first issue of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse was published in October 1912, offering poets a quality home for the publication of serious and progressive poetry. Founder Harriet Monroe (1860-1936) launched the magazine with high ambitions. “The Open Door will be the policy of this magazine,” she wrote at the time. “(M)ay the great poet we are looking for never find it shut, or half-shut, against his ample genius! To this end the editors hope to keep free from entangling alliances with any single class or school. They desire to print the best English verse which is being written today, regardless of where, by whom, or under what theory of art it is written.”

Completed microfilm reels of the
Poetry Magazine Archive.
Photo courtesy of the
University of Chicago Library.
In that first year, Monroe named American poet Ezra Pound as foreign editor, publishing two of his poems in the magazine’s first issue. With his ear for talent, Pound encouraged submissions by James Joyce, Robert Frost, D.H. Lawrence, W.B. Yeats, and H.D. Most notably, he recommended publication of “The Love Song of J. Alfred Prufrock” by the previously unpublished poet T.S. Eliot. Published in the June 1915 issue, “Prufrock” marked a pivotal moment in the development of modern poetry.

Throughout its century-long existence, Poetry has remained at the forefront of innovations in modern poetry, including the Modernist, Imagist, and Objectivist movements. Among the hundreds of significant poems published by Poetry, some of the most famous include “We Real Cool” by Gwendolyn Brooks, “Chicago” by Carl Sandburg, “Sunday Morning” by Wallace Stevens, “anyone lived in a pretty how town” by E.E. Cummings, and “Fever 103°” by Sylvia Plath. Other acclaimed poets published in its pages include Langston Hughes, W.H. Auden, Edna St. Vincent Millay, Marianne Moore, Elizabeth Bishop, William Carlos Williams, and Allen Ginsburg.

But Harriet Monroe’s goal for Poetry was never to promote the work of the famous and established. Above all, she wanted to encourage new poets and new audiences for them. This desire continues to drive work at the magazine today. Despite the rigorous review that all submissions must go through, Poetry maintains its commitment to new poets, with over a third of their published poetry generally coming from previously unpublished writers.

Completed microfilm reels of the Poetry Magazine Archive.
Photo courtesy of the University of Chicago.

Notes from the Editor:  Poetry turned 100 in 1912, celebrating the occasion with the publication of The Open Door: 100 Poems, 100 Years of Poetry Magazine. In his review of The Open Door, the National Post’s poetry columnist Michael Lista wrote, “In many ways this is a radically democratic anthology — to get in you don’t need to be famous, you just need to be good.” You couldn’t ask for a better testament to Harriet Monroe’s original ideals for the magazine.

Other Recommended Sites:  While visiting the University of Chicago, check out their three museums. The Smart Museum of Art has a permanent art collection that spans five millennia, the Oriental Institute Museum is the university’s museum dedicated to the study of the ancient Near East, and the Renaissance Society is a modern art gallery that offers free exhibitions and performances.

The January 2012 issue of Poetry,
celebrating 100 years of publication.

Tour America's History Itinerary
Friday’s destination:  First Baptist Congregational Church

© 2012 Lee Price

1 comment:

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