Baltimore Poetry Library Opens at UB
February 9, 2016
Contact: University Relations
The University of Baltimore's Klein Family School of Communications Design is the new home of the Baltimore Poetry Library, a compilation of thousands of volumes of poetry in various formats that constitutes the single largest collection of poetry in the mid-Atlantic region. The school will host an opening of the collection on Saturday, March 5, in and around the Carol Peirce Resource Room, located in Room 303 of the University's Liberal Arts and Policy Building, 10 W. Preston St. It will take place from 2 to 4 p.m. An R.S.V.P. is requested; details are listed below.
The Baltimore Poetry Library includes poetry books and anthologies, handmade books, chapbooks, broadsides, manuscripts, journals, and audio-video materials. While the collection includes work by a range of American, British, and authors of other nationalities, it also showcases the work of Baltimore poets, from national and internationally known writers such as Adrienne Rich, Karl Shapiro, and Lucille Clifton, to a range of regionally and locally known poets.
"We've always been able to ask students to read Walt Whitman and Emily Dickinson," UB Professor and MFA director Kendra Kopelke said. "But now we can also ask them to read the work of Baltimore poets Afaa Weaver, Clarinda Harriss, Joe Harrison, and so many more."
Curators Douglas Mowbray, Christophe Casamassima, and their colleagues have been accumulating the materials since 2003. They decided to house the collection at UB because of the reputation of the School of Communications Design—specifically the School's MFA in Creative Writing & Publishing Arts as a welcoming place for Baltimore writers.
Casamassima said he believes that a vibrant urban arts culture must work to retain its "cultural brain trust," and that "UB, and the MFA program specifically, have done a brilliant job empowering its students and providing them plenty of resources and support to make, and keep, Baltimore as their home."
Mowbrey added, "When I think of Baltimore as a writer's hub and the organizations that are supporting that hub and making it thrive, I think of the University of Baltimore far above any other organization. In addition to what is happening 'on the street,' UB is setting the pace for an interesting and sustainable literary and publishing arts community. A collection of poetry books should reflect the current and past states of the Baltimore writing community, and UB is the best place to call home—to celebrate and study the ghosts of Baltimore poets past, and incubate and showcase the very alive Baltimore poets of the present and future."
The goal of the Baltimore Poetry Library, Casamassima said, is "to document and archive the full history of Baltimore's various literary communities, to acquire every piece of literature ever published in Baltimore, by Baltimore writers, and by Baltimore publishers, and to make that collection available to students, scholars and lovers of poetry."
Mowbray hopes that the community will see the collection "not as a museum to showcase poetry books, but rather a petting zoo that encourages the tactile experience."
Over the next several months, Casamassima, Mowbray, and Klein Family School of Communications Design faculty will develop policies for community access to the collection.
To attend the March 5 event, fill out the online R.S.V.P.
The University of Baltimore is a member of the University System of Maryland and comprises the College of Public Affairs, the Merrick School of Business, the UB School of Law and the Yale Gordon College of Arts and Sciences.