From Poetry to Verse: The Making of Modern Poetry

From Poetry to Verse

Exhibition curated by David Pavelich, Sandy Roscoe, Sebastian Heirl.

The preservation of the record of modern poetry has a long tradition at the University of Chicago. Ever since the bequest of her personal papers and the editorial files of Poetry: A Magazine of Verse by Harriet Monroe in 1931, the University of Chicago has taken on a leadership role in documenting the publishing of modern poetry.

Focusing on the editorial files and correspondence of poetry journals, the collections reflect the decisive role of so-called "little" magazines in discovering and providing a voice to new emerging poets. Just as Harriet Monroe set out in 1912 to create an audience for new poets and ideas, following her motto "To have great poets there must be great audiences too," subsequent editors have sought to emulate her success and to create journals that define a generation. This exhibition documents the process of bringing new poetry to the public in all its various formats. By tracing the stages of individual poems and poetry collections alike, from their first drafts to their final published versions, and by illustrating the many physical formats through which poetry is disseminated since 1912, the show attempts to capture the full spectrum of poetry publishing.

Drawing upon the archives of Poetry, Chicago Review, Big Table, Verse, LVNG, and the papers of The Poetry Center of Chicago, the exhibit tracks the evolution and changing character of poetry from 1912 to the present. This includes a study of how the publishing process impacts upon the creative process and may help define the meaning of modern poetry at specific times. It will also permit an inquiry into the establishment of literary reputations.

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