A journal like Little Patuxent Review requires a vibrant literary and artistic community to thrive–and even survive. In appreciation of the cultural entities around us, we present “Meet the Neighbors,” where we provide you with some personal introductions.
Recently, Little Patuxent Review partnered with Enoch Pratt Free Library in Baltimore, MD to put on a poetry contest like no other: the winning poem will not only be published in LPR and featured in a CityLit Festival reading but also enlarged dramatically for display in the library’s Cathedral Street windows. Last week, Lisa Greenhouse, a librarian involved in the poetry contest, gave LPR Editor Laura Shovan and Communications Coordinator Eva Quintos Tennant such a great tour of the Pratt that I thought you’d like a look around with her as well. So, please meet Lisa and see what she has to say:
The Enoch Pratt Free Library’s Central facility is both the hub of an excellent urban public library system and the Maryland State Library Resource Center, a rich resource for all the libraries and library patrons of Maryland. It is an especially attractive destination if you care about poetry.
The Humanities Department should be the poetry-lover’s first stop. A walk through the long stacks (or guidance of a librarian) will reveal works of poetry representing all times and places, from Homer and Sappho in Greek to Derek Walcott and Anne Carson. The collection is strong in American, African-American and local poetry.
In each poet’s assigned Library of Congress call-number area, you will find the poet’s works, essays, interviews, biographies and critical works. Anthologies gather the best poetry, new poets, world poets, love poetry or Sufi poetry. If you need to write a sonnet or a pantoum or revise your poem, manuals such as The New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetics or The Poetry Home Repair Manual can help. If you can’t remember where a nagging line of poetry comes from, one of the Granger’s indexes to poetry can come to your rescue. If you need a book that the Pratt doesn’t own, we can find it for you. Librarians love questions: please ask us!
The Pratt Periodicals Department holds more than 30 current English-language poetry magazines in print form and many more in electronic databases. From the British title Ambit at the beginning of the alphabet to the Yale Review near the end, browsing the Pratt current collection is a great way for aspiring poets to familiarize themselves with the gamut of publication options. The Pratt how-to guide Submitting Poetry for Publication in Little Magazines links to the submission guidelines of many of the magazines in the Pratt current collection.
Down in the periodicals stacks, the Pratt’s retrospective collection includes a full run of Harriet Monroe’s seminal Poetry magazine–from 1912 to the present–and a full run–1889 to the present–of Poet Lore, the oldest continuously published poetry journal in the United States. Pratt staff will be happy to retrieve these and other older works for any customer who wishes to peruse them.
The Pratt, which sponsored a rap contest that Tupac Shakur won at age 14, has a long tradition of celebrating poetic talent. The annual CityLit Festival, which the Pratt presents in partnership with Gregg Wilhelm and the CityLit Project, always includes a poetry component—this year, appearances by Edward Hirsch and Thomas Lux. The Poetry and Conversation series, an engaging mix of reading and Q&A, was launched in January. Future guests include Clarinda Harriss and Bruce Sager and two married couples, Jane Satterfield and Ned Balbo and Virginia Crawford and Sam Schmidt. Sonia Sanchez will visit the library on April 25, and Harriss will conduct free poetry-writing workshops on the first three Wednesdays in April.
With its colorful programs and deep collections, the Pratt is a poet’s or poetry-lover’s paradise. Come see for yourself. If you care for the near and far places where poetry goes, you’ll find our tag line to be true: “Your journey starts here.”
Note: If you’re a Marylander, it’s not too late to enter the Pratt poetry contest. The contest closes February 21.