Wednesday, December 28, 2011

The Poetry Foundation Site as a Vital Resource

This past year, I spent a considerable amount of time on the Poetry Foundation site, which contains hundreds if not thousands of poems, images, articles, and news items. I went to the site primarily for materials related to African American poetry. As my blogging about poetry increased this year so did my visits to the site.

[Related: Blogging & Linking to Poetry Foundation Site in 2011]

The Poetry Foundation site served as an invaluable resource for poetry published decades ago such as early poems by Langston Hughes, Gwendolyn Brooks, and Margaret Walker as well as contemporary pieces by Calvin Forbes and Nikki Giovanni. When I compiled a list of 100-plus poems that I had read and re-read online over the past year, the majority of those pieces were from the Poetry Foundation site. No doubt, the site was one of my most frequent online destinations in 2011.

I also spent time looking for poems by black poets on It's a useful site as well. However, it is not  as expansive as the Poetry Foundation site. One reason for the latter's size and ambition has to do with a gift of $200 million from Ruth Lily in2003. The gift made it possible for the organization to retool itself, maintain successful programs, and create many new ones.

Somewhere along the way, the web-site was redesigned and updated, and the rights to publish a large number of poems was secured. Many of the poems that are available on the site had been published by the foundation's well-known print magazine, Poetry. Many other poems on the site, however, are from a variety of other sources.

In the spring of 2012, I will teach a course on technology and African American poetry. My students and I will have reason to make frequent visits to the Poetry Foundation site; we'll also work to identify other online resources for studying poetry.  
I'll also keep blogging about poetry in the new year, and so I'm certain to rely on the Poetry Foundation site again and again as a resource.

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