I spent yesterday at the Saison Poetry Library which is based at the stunning Southbank Centre and holds the Arts Council poetry collection. This is a great resource for anyone interested in poetry since it holds an overwhelming amount of modern poetry, the books are available on inter library loan and they stock many periodicals too. Of course, it is even more important since many local libraries have abysmal poetry collections and university libraries aren’t open to everyone.
I didn’t really expect I’d have much cause to use it since the Bodleian is a copyright depository and therefore has virtually everything I require. However, the Poetry Library has a collection of newspaper cuttings and reviews on two of my three main poets – which is more than intriguing enough to get my attention and justify a trip on the Oxford Tube.
Altogether I was able to consult 18 reviews I hadn’t already come across in my research on various databases. This is quite a lot of material – some from small press periodicals that are not catalogued by content anywhere. Being able to have this presented to me in a plastic folder saved me many hours leg work, sending hundreds of stack requests, trawling through contents lists and desperately trying to photocopy a massive broadsheet in the corner of the library. I can only thank whoever did all that for me!
What have I learned from this experience? That a bit of awareness about where resources might be out there saves time and effort. Also, the Southbank Centre sells the best brownies I’ve ever had.