The Poetry Foundation is the publisher of the 102-year-old Poetry Magazine, which has published many of the most famous poets of the twentieth century. The Foundation’s building, located on Superior Street in Chicago’s Near North neighborhood, opened to the public in June 2011 as a place for people to discover, experience and celebrate poetry. The building contains a gallery, theater, staff offices and also houses the Foundation’s 30,000-volume library.
“Our collection is interesting in that it really grew out of books that were sent into the magazine over the past 102 years as review copies,” said Library Assistant Maggie Queeney. She noted that another unique feature of the library is that until the new building opened, most of the collection was in storage, which means that a lot of the older books are in excellent condition.
The Foundation’s library is open to the public, and visitors are encouraged to sit and read a recent literary magazine, a book of poetry or a chapbook from the library’s collection. Some library visitors are poets or scholars who need help finding a specific book, but others are locals or tourists wandering in off the street, Queeney explained.
“We have people come in who are relatively new to poetry – maybe not even that comfortable with reading poetry, so I get to interact with a wide spectrum of experience and involvement,” Queeney said, adding, “I can find poets that make a bridge to their own experience so it feels welcoming to them.”