Librarians as Poets, Poets as Librarians

The week of April 7 -13 was #NationalLibraryWeek, which is one week of #NationalPoetryMonth. What would be the perfect way to celebrate?

We wondered about Librarians who were also Poets (and Poets who were also Librarians). We were able to identify a few for a book display on view in our fiction reading room.

Audre Lorde was a librarian at Mount Vernon Public Library from 1961 to 1963 and at New York City’s Town School Library from 1966 to 1968. A prolific poet and writer, we have her collection of poetry and her feminist writings available for loan. Audre Lorde’s work is included in numerous anthologies, including 100 Best African American Writings, also available for loan.

Philip Larkin worked first at a public library in England, but then later for several more years in academic libraries. It has been suggested that his career as a librarian allowed him to write free of the “literary, the metropolitan, the group label, [and to] embrace the nonliterary, the provincial, and the purely personal. ” We have his collected works of poetry at the library.

Jorge Luis Borges worked as a municipal librarian at the Miguel Cane Branch Library in Buenos Aires from 1937 to 1946. As a child, Borges regularly visited libraries, and is quoted as saying “I have always imagined that Paradise will be a kind of library.” In our collection, Latin American Writers at Work includes excerpts of work by Borges.

Marianne Moore. An assistant librarian at the Hudson Park Branch of the New York Public Library, poems by Marianne Moore are included in numerous anthologies, some at the library.

Stanley Kunitz. Twice Poet Laureate, Kunitz was also a consultant in poetry to the Library of Congress. In 1959 his Selected Poems was awarded the Pulitzer Prize in poetry. Some of these poems are included in an anthology available for loan. You can also learn more about his relationship with gardening and nature through a recent biography available for circulation.

Are there are other Poet-Librarians that you know of? If so, send word! We’d love to include them in this list.

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