At the Poetry Center Library, one of our most extensive--but least visible--collections is our collection of back periodicals. We've been collecting literary magazines since our inception in 1960, and now, in 2023, we've accumulated tens of thousands of individual journal issues. Currently, we subscribe to about 350 literary magazines, and recent issues are available by the central table in our Reading Room--but we have many, many more older issues of literary journals in our closed-stacks Archives space. These range from venerable giants of the field like Poetry Magazine to experimental, shorter-lived productions.
Front cover of dodgems, no.1, edited by Eileen Myles.
Independent literary journals--frequently termed "little magazines"--tell the story of contemporary poetry in an incredibly broad-ranging way. Little magazines have historically provided first publication venues for new authors, allowed more established authors a space to try new ideas, and offered an aesthetic platform for editors eager to add their vision to contemporary poetry's mix of voices. Here at the Poetry Center, we've always understood the importance of retaining our print journals to document the explosion of poetry publishing in the late twentieth and early twenty-first centuries--but space considerations in our public Reading Room have forced us to shelve the vast majority of these journal issues in the Archives Room, out of the public eye.
Front cover of Kauri, no. 9, edited by Will Inman.
We thought it might be time to shine a bit of light on this collection. Over the summer, I took a deep dive into our Archives periodicals and photographed a few infrequently-seen journal issues for a digital exhibit titled "Little Magazines." The journal issues featured here are just a tiny sampling of what's available. If you'd like to see some of our journals in person, drop by the Library anytime during our opening hours. We'll be delighted to retrieve these hidden gems of the past for you.