Poetry pamphlets are generally published by independent presses, and are crucial in introducing the work of new poets or highlighting a thematic collection from more established writers. The British Library’s collection of poetry pamphlets provides entry into the diversity of dialects, styles, themes, identities and experimentation currently occurring in the contemporary British poetry scene.
About the collection
The Library holds the largest collection of modern UK poetry pamphlets in the world. The Library’s poetry pamphlet collection comes largely from legal deposit. The collection includes modern British examples from the Hogarth and Duncan Press, as well as a wealth of examples from contemporary press, including: The Emma Press, Mariscat Press, Eyewear Pamphlets, Smith/Doorstop Books and Stewed Rhubarb Press. The library also holds a strong collection of poetry from the Americas, with pamphlets by Langston Hughes, Sylvia Plath and Gwendolyn Brooks. There is also a rich resource of South American poetry in the Cordel poetry collection, with highlights such as the Cuban Vigía poetry.
The library is also a partner to the Michael Marks Award, which annually recognises an outstanding publisher, pamphlet and illustrator. The award encourages new poetry production, and all pamphlets submitted can be found in the library’s collection.
What is available online?
The National Poetry Library offers several lists of independent presses creating poetry pamphlets, this lists can be filtered to show presses which produce pamphlets;
Scottish Poetry Library offers a growing resource on poetry publishers with Scottish lists;
The UK Web Archive Collection of Digital Poetry Publications.
What is available in our Reading Rooms?
Use Explore the British Library catalogue to search for poetry pamphlets in the collection. Please be aware that some of the pamphlets are stored at Boston Spa and take 48 hours for delivery to St. Pancras.
What is available in other organisations?
The National Poetry Library at the Southbank Centre has a wide-ranging collection of poetry pamphlets;
The National Library for Scotland describes it’s collection of pamphlets;
The Scottish Poetry Library collects all pamphlets produced in Scotland;
University of Sheffield Special Collections has a developing collection of small press poetry publications;
University College of London have a collection of little magazines and alternative press publications, including pamphlets.
Shining a light on poetry pamphlets for National Poetry Day a blog post by Debbie Cox;
Poetry Pamphlets as Private Public Space, the text of a speech made at the inaugural Michael Marks Awards for Pamphlet Poetry, The British Library, 25th June 2009 by Richard Price.