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A Poet's Ideal Library

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INDEX: BOOK LISTS IN THE POET’S IDEAL LIBRARY

In October 2006, Jim Finnegan, one of the moderators of the NewPoetry email discussion list, posed this question to the members of the list:

If you were to stock a poet’s personal library, filling it with the essential and odd books a poet should own or have ready access to, what titles would be in it? (Note: no books of poems allowed... since those books are presumed to be in libris already.)

So began a long list of titles, both essential references and oddities, suggested by the NewPoetry poets and compiled by Jim Finnegan into a virtual library that we thought ought to be preserved here for you, dear readers, to wander and browse in. We are building the library, room by room, in categorized lists with shopping links, so that when you come across the next book you must add to your personal library, you can easily order it then and there.

JIM FINNEGAN’S INTRODUCTION TO THE ARS POETICA LIBRARY LIST

The list began in late 2006 as a thread on the NewPoetry List under the caption “Books A Poet Should Own.” Many classic and practical texts were suggested. A certain amount of discussion centered around what dictionary a poet should own.

I’m sure I didn’t keep up with all of the titles suggested by the list members. A few of the titles suggested were so far removed from poetry/poetics, that I made a conscious decision to leave them off the list. And I added many more titles, mostly personal favorites or books that seemed important to the list.

The categories I concentrated on were: Poetry Essays, Poetics, Literary Criticism, Literary/Aesthetic Philosophy, Handbooks of Prosody, Essays on Art and Poetry, etc. I decided to include only a few anthologies because there were too many to list. The anthologies I chose were those where the introductory/thesis essay is as important as the poems collected in support of the thesis.

Certainly there are some gross omissions from this list. Some areas of poetry and poetics are better represented than others, and certainly there are idiosyncratic choices and a few obscure titles and literary curiosities thrown in for good measure.

If there is benefit to a list like this, it is to suggest a few titles one might want to look into. And if one were to read even a random selection of titles from this list, it would not be a bad thing for one’s poetry; in fact, it would probably be the equivalent of taking an advanced class in poetry and poetics.

~Jim Finnegan

CATEGORIZED BOOK LISTS DRAWN FROM THE ARS POETICA LIST

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