When the Poetry Collection began in 1937, its original mission was to collect first editions of poetry written in English and English translation published since 1900. Today, the collection houses over 140,000 titles of Anglophone poetry including 6,600 broadsides as well as an extensive selection of little magazines, anthologies, criticism, reference books, ephemera and audio recordings, making it the largest poetry library of its kind in North America.
Throughout the 20th century, “little magazines”—magazines usually noncommercial in nature and often committed to certain literary ideals—have been a primary organ for the dissemination of poetry and for the formation of literary communities across the aesthetic and political spectra. Consequently, they offer a rich and largely unexplored resource for researching the material and social networks in which poetry takes shape as well as the genetic evolution of individual poems.
The Poetry Collection maintains a comprehensive selection of over 9,000 titles of past and current little magazines, literary journals, university reviews, newspapers and other poetry periodicals, and is particularly strong in its holdings of independent publications. Copies may be requested through OCLC Interlibrary Loan, where our holding symbol is BUF.
Soon after establishing the Poetry Collection, Charles Abbott made a concerted effort to begin collecting the working manuscripts and letters of contemporary poets, soliciting donations from hundreds of writers such as Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore and Wallace Stevens and establishing a tradition of acquiring others. These form the foundation of the Contemporary Manuscripts Collection, which contains tens of thousands of pages of manuscripts and correspondence from hundreds of American, British, Irish, Canadian and Australian authors. Additionally, there are more than 150 named collections, including the world’s largest and most distinguished archive of James Joyce manuscripts as well as major selections of papers from Robert Graves, Theodore Enslin, Robert Duncan, John Logan, Helen Adam, John Montague, Clark Coolidge, Michael Palmer, William Carlos Williams, Basil Bunting, Dylan Thomas, Jonathan Williams and Wyndham Lewis. The collection also holds the archives of several important small presses and magazines, such as the Jargon Society, Hand and Flower Press, Alcheringa, kayak, Manroot and Lost & Found Times, and serves as a regional repository for many of the presses, publications, arts organizations and galleries of Western New York including Intrepid, Earth’s Daughters, Buckle, Hallwalls Contemporary Arts Center, CEPA Gallery and Just Buffalo Literary Center.
Also featured in the Poetry Collection are the personal libraries of writers such as Helen Adam, Basil Bunting, Robert Duncan, James Joyce and John Logan; artworks by Constantin Brancusi, Jess (Collins), Wyndham Lewis, E. E. Cummings and many others; and substantial collections of mail art, visual and concrete poetry, photographs and zines.