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The collection includes, on a representative level, work of most poets writing in English in the twentieth and twenty-first centuries. Poets from earlier centuries and translations into English from other languages are represented on a more selective level. A variety of aesthetic viewpoints and poetics are collected, from the mainstream to the avant-garde, including a good selection of poetry from the margins. Publishers range from Norton to Green Integer, from Atheneum to Zoo Press. The New York School poets, the Beats, the San Francisco Renaissance, and the Deep Image, New Formalist, and L=A=N=G=U=A=G-E schools are well represented. There is also a large selection of confessional poetry, poetic memoir, and autobiographical poetry. The collection comprises single-author monographs, anthologies, literary journals, rare books, limited-edition books, artist-made books, chapbooks, broadsides, photographs, and prose and critical works by poets.
Robert Frost, who dedicated the Poetry Center in 1960, is represented with 42 titles, including first editions of Mountain Interval and A Further Range and Collected Poems (1936), Complete Poems (1949 American Edition and 1951 English Edition), and the Library of America’s Robert Frost: Collected Poems, Prose and Plays (1995).
Other significant holdings include 50 titles by T.S. Eliot, 42 titles by Ezra Pound, 25 by Wallace Stevens, 21 by Marianne Moore, 25 by Charles Olson, 20 by Robinson Jeffers (including the magnificent four-volume Collected Poetry), 49 by Denise Levertov, 22 by Gwendolyn Brooks, 29 by Anne Waldman, and 26 by Bernadette Mayer.