Collections

Voca: Audio Video Library

Voca is a world-class collection of audiovisual recordings of poets reading their work, dating from 1963 to the present, offered free to the public in an online digital library. The Poetry Center has recently completed the digitization of its archive of analog recordings from 1963-2006, and 20 to 30 new born-digital readings are added each year through the Poetry Center’s Reading and Lecture Series. More than 800 recordings are currently available.

Readings on voca are broken down into separate tracks for ease of navigation. They are accompanied by rich, searchable metadata and photographs depicting the authors as they appeared at the time of the reading. A free registration process enables interactive features—including tagging and comments—that allow users to contribute to the scholarly value of the resource. To learn more about voca, just begin your visit or watch this introductory video.

The Ruth Stephan and Myrtle Walgreen Collection

The University of Arizona Poetry Center possesses one of the finest, most extensive, and most fully accessible collections of contemporary poetry in the nation. The Poetry Center’s library is most comprehensive in contemporary English-language poetry (including translations from other languages) from the last half of the twentieth century through the current day and maintains a strong representative collection of poetry from previous decades and centuries. The collection comprises single-author monographs, anthologies, literary journals, rare books, limited-edition books, artist-made books, chapbooks, broadsides, photographs, prose and critical works by poets, and audiovisual recordings. There is an open-shelf reference collection including dictionaries, directories, handbooks, encyclopedias, biographies, and bibliographies. The Poetry Center's collections are non-circulating, but are entirely open to the public. The majority of the Center's books are housed in open stacks ideal for browsing.

In 1960 Ruth Stephan seeded the collection with several hundred volumes of poetry. By 1970 the collection had grown to more than 3,000 volumes. Supported by an acquisitions endowment provided by Stephan and her mother Myrtle Walgreen, the collection now contains more than 47,000 volumes of poetry; 28,000 issues of journals and periodicals (250 current subscriptions); 800 broadsides; and 5,000 photographs. Of the 1,500 audiovisual recordings in the Center's archives, dating from 1963 to the present, over 800 are available online at voca, the Center's world-class digital audio/video library.

The Poetry Center's books, periodicals, and broadsides are cataloged in the Library’s database. If you are interested in donating an item to the Poetry Center's library collection of contemporary poetry, please review our library materials donation policy (below; PDF also available here).

Books

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.

Anthologies

The Poetry Center Library places a special emphasis on anthologies. The anthology section is divided into groupings that represent poetry in translation and bilingual editions from diverse continents, countries, and cultures. We seek out anthologies that are edited or translated by significant poets, represent important historical movements in poetry, highlight underrepresented groups of U.S. and non-U.S. poets, and provide insight into the world of poetry at large in a way that single volumes cannot. Anthologies of poets from the United States comprise about 25% of the anthologies section. Other groupings include African, African American, Asian American, Caribbean, Chicano/Latino, Chinese, Greek and Latin, Japanese, Korean, Latin American, LGBTQ, Middle Eastern, and Native American, to name just a few. There is also an extensive International subsection featuring anthologies that span several regions or cultures.

Journals

The Poetry Center subscribes to more than 250 current journals and periodicals. Most of the titles in the collection are those which publish only poetry or primarily poetry, or which print poetry on a regular basis. Our subscriptions include 6x6; The Antigonish Review; Callaloo; Fairy Tale Review; Forklift, Ohio; Fence; Green Mountains Review;  jubilat; The Kenyon Review; LIT; New Contrast;  New Yorker; Ninth Letter; Poet Lore; Poetry; Poetry Ireland Review; PRISM international; A Public Space; Rain Taxi; Rattle; Volt; and ZYZZYVA, among many others.

Children’s Books

The Anika Burns Children’s Collection at the Poetry Center includes more than 650 volumes of poetry for children. Children’s books are grouped on the shelves by subject for easy browsing. Subject groupings include Alphabet Books; Creatures/Monsters; General Poetry; Novels in Verse; Song, Chant and Lullabies; Storybook/Folklore; and Anthologies. A Teacher Resources section presents an assortment of curricular and pedagogical materials for use in teaching poetry to children.

Rare Books

The Rare Book Collection consists of items chosen for inclusion because of their age, rarity, aura, and physical beauty. Some of the works located in the L. R. Benes Rare Book Room date back to the beginning of the 20th century, including a 1900 edition of Leaves of Grass by Walt Whitman. Our rare and limited-edition works include books published by distinguished small presses, such as Ezra Pound’s The Pisan Cantos, published by New Directions in 1948; Allen Ginsberg’s Howl, published by City Lights Books in 1956; and Denise Levertov’s Embroideries, published by Black Sparrow Press in 1969. Many are books which have garnered an “aura” and are well known as central or significant in the poetry tradition, such as Ezra Pound’s Drafts & Fragments of Cantos CX-CXV11, 1969 and Marianne Moore’s Collected Poems, Faber & Faber, 1951.

The L.R. Benes Rare Book Room also houses fine examples of work from the mimeo tradition—including work printed by d.a. levy, Diane DiPrima and LeRoi Jones/Amiri Baraka's The Floating Bear, and a copy of Ferret addressed by Michael McClure to Philip Whalen—in addition to 21st-century work inspired by that tradition from publishers such as Cuneiform Press and The Brother in Elysium.

Other books serve as examples of beautiful bookmaking and are unusual because of their size, shape, or material composition. These works are often artist-made books or collaborative projects between writers, artists, and publishers. Some of our holdings include Alberto Ríos's Inside Chance, a sculptural book published by Picnic Press; Kenneth Patchen’s When We Were Here Together, published by New Directions with a cover hand-painted by the author (1 of 75 copies); Lyn Hejinian and Ray Di Palma’s Chartings, published by Chax Press (1 of 80 copies); and Dean Young’s hand-printed Original Monkey, published by Iowa City's Empyrean Press. Some artist's books found here are unique editions, meaning that the copy found at the Poetry Center is the only one produced.

A list of Rare Book Room holdings, updated annually, may be found here.

Broadsides

The Center's broadsides collection, housed in the L. R. Benes Rare Book Room, includes 800 items, many of them produced in extremely limited editions. The collection includes posters, fine printing broadsides, and ephemeral work such as postcards and broadsheets. The library has collected broadsides from a wide variety of presses, including Mummy Mountain Press and Tucson’s own Kore Press, SUN/gemini Press, and Chax Press. 

A list of broadside holdings, updated annually, may be found here.

Photographs

The Poetry Center has more than 5,000 photographs in its institutional photo collection, primarily images of writers who have read in the Center's Reading and Lecture Series from 1962 to 2011. The collection includes dozens of photographs documenting each writer’s visit. The Poetry Center’s photography project was initiated by director and professional photographer LaVerne Harrell Clark. The collection also includes photographs by Nancy Carrick Holbert, former director Lois Shelton, Christine Krikliwy, and Cybele Knowles.

The Poetry Center is also home to the LaVerne Harrell Clark Photographic Collection. LaVerne Harrell Clark began the tradition of photographing the Center’s readers and visitors during her tenure as the first Director of the Poetry Center (1962-1965). For a full description of this historically significant collection, please see the Archival Collections section below.

Recordings

The Center's audiovisual holdings include more than 1,500 recordings, including long-playing records; the collection also contains recordings from the Center's Readings and Lectures Series or readings presented under the auspices of the Poetry Center. The earliest of these, a recording of Robert Creeley, dates to December 1963.

Since 2007, with the support of The Gladys Krieble Delmas Foundation, the National Endowment for the Humanities, and the Southwestern Foundation, the Poetry Center has been digitizing its collection of born-analog Reading Series recordings and making them freely available online for public listening, with the permission of the authors and rights holders. Today, over 800 recordings dating from 1963 to the present can be experienced online at voca, the Center's world-class digital audio/video library.

The University of Arizona Poetry Center's Archival Collections

The University of Arizona Poetry Center’s archival holdings are open to faculty, staff, students, and the public Monday through Friday year round. Find our hours here.

Patrons are required to comply with the Poetry Center's archives policies to ensure that materials are protected for current and future use. First-time users of the archives must sign an archives and rare books policies form indicating compliance with these policies. 

University of Arizona Poetry Center Records

This primarily print collection contains correspondence, administrative records, board meeting minutes, printed materials, audiovisual recordings, and scrapbooks dating from 1960, related to the unique history of the Poetry Center and its prominent role in Southern Arizona’s literary arts landscape. “Author files” contain records and correspondence pertaining to poets such as Robert Frost, Kenneth Koch, and Allen Ginsberg. A finding aid, which describes how the collection is organized, can be found here.

LaVerne Harrell Clark Photographic Collection

This collection of several thousand film negatives and photographic prints consists of portraits of poets by the University of Arizona Poetry Center’s first director, LaVerne Harrell Clark. Many of the portraits were captured on site at the Poetry Center and other locations in Tucson. The collection also contains correspondence and ephemera. Dating from ca. 1960 to 2007, the collection portrays many of the twentieth century’s leading poets, often at unguarded, intimate moments. A finding aid, which describes how the collection is organized, can be found here.

More than one thousand digitized images from the collection may be viewed online at the LaVerne Harrell Clark Photographic Collection online gallery. A smaller selection of digitized images can also be seen at the Arizona Memory Project. Many digitized images from the collection are contained on voca, the Poetry Center’s online library of audiovisual recordings and images.

The University of Arizona Creative Writing Program M.F.A. Thesis Collection

The Poetry Center is proud to house more than 600 M.F.A. thesis manuscripts from The University of Arizona Creative Writing Program. The collection consists of graduate theses in creative nonfiction, fiction, and poetry, dating from 1973 to the present. Thesis manuscripts are housed in the Poetry Center’s Archives Room.

Lists of thesis collection holdings are available as PDFs sorted by genre, name, and year of graduation

Exhibitions

Our exhibits, presented in the Jeremy Ingalls Gallery, select from our collection of over 70,000 items to present a cohesive view of individual poets, schools of poetry, particular presses, book forms, and more. We also feature exhibits of contemporary presswork and contemporary artists. Stop in and experience our exhibits whenever the Poetry Center is open. Find our hours here.

Upcoming Exhibitions

Check our online calendar for information about current and upcoming exhibitions.

Online Exhibitions

 Explore poets, poetry, and treasures of the Poetry Center's collections in our special online exhibitions. This section of the website is under construction; check back later!

Library Donation Policy

Financial Contributions

Financial contributions to the Poetry Center and its library represent our area of greatest need. Each year, private contributions from people like you provide the majority of the Poetry Center’s funding for programs that range from K–12 and adult education to community readings and lectures. There are many ways to give, and you can learn more by contacting Executive Director Tyler Meier at tmeier@email.arizona.edu or (520) 626-5880, or by visiting our donation web page.

Library Materials

Your interest in donating library materials to the University of Arizona Poetry Center is very much appreciated. Gifts from our friends help us to build our library, one of the largest and most publicly accessible collections of contemporary poetry in the United States. Thank you for your generosity and support of the Poetry Center!

When considering making a donation of library materials to the Poetry Center, we encourage you first to read over the policies below and check our online library catalog to ensure that the materials you wish to donate are not already present in our collection. You can also view our donation policies as a PDF here.

Donations that may be appropriate for the Poetry Center’s library collection generally meet the following criteria. Please note that due to space and personnel constraints, we are unable to accept all materials offered to us.

  • In Scope: books and broadsides of contemporary poetry in English or English translation, generally published after 1960
  • In Small Quantities, or Single Items: the library does not have the processing resources to accept large quantities of materials
  • In Good Condition: the library does not have the resources to care for damaged or deteriorating books
  • Do Not Duplicate Existing Holdings in the Collection: prior to contacting the Poetry Center library, please check our online library catalog to see if the materials you would like to donate are already in the collection.

As a small organization with limited space and processing resources, the library does not accept materials that fall outside of the above criteria. Examples of materials that cannot be accepted include materials in large quantities; toys, games, kits, and children’s activity sets; two dimensional or three-dimensional visual art (except poetry broadsides and artist books/book objects); teaching materials, curricula, textbooks, or workbooks; materials that are not in the library’s scope of contemporary poetry, or are peripheral to that scope; personal or professional files (authors’ papers); damaged books; books with mold, mildew, or infestations; and books that duplicate existing holdings in the collection.

Donations of library materials that are accepted by the University of Arizona Poetry Center become the property of the Arizona Board of Regents and cannot be returned to the donor for any reason. Upon receipt, the Poetry Center library reserves the right to make all determinations regarding retention, location, use, maintenance, removal, or disposal. The library reserves the right to dispose of unsolicited materials as it deems appropriate.

The Poetry Center’s library staff appreciates speaking with potential donors in advance to determine if your donation is a good fit. If you have questions or would like to discuss a potential donation, please contact the librarians at (520) 626-3765.

Read Between the Bars

Read Between the Bars is a volunteer-based Tucson organization that provides books free of charge to people who are incarcerated in the State of Arizona. The University of Arizona Poetry Center is not affiliated with Read Between the Bars but is pleased to serve as a site for one of the organization’s book donation bins, located in the lobby of the Helen S. Schaefer Building.

If you have books in good condition that are not acceptable for donation to the Poetry Center’s collection, please consider bringing them to the Read Between the Bars donation bin. Read Between the Bars accepts new or used paperback books (no hardcover books, magazines, or audiovisual materials) in good condition, on any subject.

Acknowledgement

Donations of library materials that are accepted for the Poetry Center’s library collection are acknowledged with a letter. Donors must provide a name and address in order to receive an acknowledgement letter. Additionally, if desired by the donor, a “Gift of…” note may be made in the catalog records of accepted materials acknowledging the source of the donation.

Appraisals of gifts are the sole responsibility of the donor. According to U.S. tax regulations, the Poetry Center library cannot appraise donated materials. It is the responsibility of the donor to keep appropriate record of materials donated.