Poetry and Poetry Criticism
HOW TO FIND A POEM
On the Web
There is a great deal of older and contemporary poetry easily accessible on the web. Use your favorite search engine to look for titles, phrases, or authors.
Here are a few fulltext websites especially recommended for poetry:
- Bartleby.com - The poetry here is in the public domain (not copyrighted), published before 1923.
- Poets.org - This site is sponsored by the Academy of American Poets and features many contemporary poets as well as earlier ones.
- The University of Michigan Digital Library Text Collections has three collections of interest. Choose Browse from the main page, then scroll down to the Poetry section for links to the individual collections. They can be searched or browsed.
- American Verse Project
- British Women Romantic Poets
- Williams Blake's Songs of Innocence and Experience
- Contemporary American Poetry - Out of print contemporary volumes are archived here. See "about the archive" for conditions of use.
In the Library
Long, separately published poems, such as The Faerie Queene, Paradise Lost, La Chanson de Roland, El Cid Campeador, the Waste Land, or The Odyssey, can be found in the HSU Library catalog by title (and by author, if one is known). But most poems are not published separately. Instead, they are included in anthologies, periodicals, or in collections of a single author's work. The library has indexes that cover some poetry anthologies and poetry in periodicals. Below are some examples in the Reference Collection. For help in using these indexes, please come to the Reference desk.
- Subject Index to Poetry (ref PN 1021 B7)
- Granger's Index to Poetry (ref PN 1022 G7)
- Hoffman's Index to Poetry: European and Latin American Poetry in Anthologies (ref PN 1022 H627 1985)
- Index to Children's Poetry (ref PN 1023 B7) and supplements
- Index to Poetry for Children and Young People (ref PN 1023 B72, etc.)
- Subject Index to Poetry for Children and Young People, 1957-1975 (ref PN 1023 S6)
- Women's Poetry Index (ref PN 1024 G89 1985)
- Index to Black Poetry (ref PN 1025 C5)
- Index to Poetry by Black American Women (ref PS 153 N5 C43)
- Index to American Periodical Verse (ref PS 301 I54 1971-)
- Index to Poetry in Periodicals (ref PS 324 I48, etc., covering 1915-1929)
HOW TO FIND COLLECTIONS OF POETRY ON A PARTICULAR SUBJECT
In the Library
Use Advanced Search in the HSU Library Catalog and search by Subject to find collections of poems on a particular subject or by a particular type of authors. Use all of these for your descriptive terms, and include NOT criticism in the search. Here are some examples of descriptive terms to use:
abraham lincoln poetry
african american poetry
mexican american poetry
poetry women authors
You may want to browse on the third floor of the Library where literature is shelved. Here are some general call numbers to guide you:
PN 6099-6110 Miscellaneous and general poetry collections PN 6109.9 Miscellaneous and general collections of poetry by women authors PR 117-1227 Collections of English poetry PS 589 Collections of American poetry by women PS 591 American poetry collections arranged by ethnic group
HOW TO FIND CRITICISM OF POEMS
In the Library
Electronic Subscription Sources - These sources are linked on the library homepage under Articles and Databases. They are available to anyone in the library or on campus, and from off campus locations to Humboldt State University faculty, staff, and currently enrolled students only.
- Academic Search Elite (1984 to the present) - This database covers all subjects and includes popular as well as scholarly material. You can limit your search to peer reviewed journals only.
- Gale Literary Databases - This site includes entries from Contemporary Authors (brief biography & criticism and lists of works for authors active since 1940), the Dictionary of Literary Biography (essays by scholars on authors and their works), and Contemporary Literary Criticism (excerpts of criticism from popular and scholarly sources with citations to the full work). You can search any or all of these at once. Selected volumes of the Dictionary of Literary Biography are in the Reference collection at ref PN 451 D53.
- OmniFile Full Text Mega (1984 to the present) - This database covers all subjects and includes popular as well as scholarly material. You can limit your search to peer reviewed journals only. Humanities Index, at Table 2, is the print equivalent of this database for literary criticism. It goes back to 1974.
- MLA Bibliography (1926 to the present) - The print version, in the index and abstract section, abstr PB 6 M62, covers 1969-1996. Before that, it was published in June issues of the journal PMLA, which our library has on microform and in print going back to 1888.
- JSTOR (coverage varies) - This database holds the fulltext of journal backfiles, usually from the first issue. The most recent five years is not included.
- Project MUSE (coverage varies) - This is a fulltext database of about 150 scholarly journals. Some are backfiles only, but most include current articles as well.
These sources are in the Reference Collection. A reference librarian can help you use them.
- Epic and Romance Criticism (ref PN 1303 C66 v.1-2)
- An Index to Criticisms of British and American Poetry (ref PR 89 C5)
- Poetry Explication (ref PR 502 K85 1980)
- Guide to British Poetry Explication (ref PR 502 M37 1991 v.1-)
- American and British Poetry, A Guide to the Criticism, 1925-1978 (ref PS 303 A42)
- Guide to American Poetry Explication (ref PS 303 G95 1989 v.1-2)
For books of poetry criticism, use the HSU Library Catalog. Keyword searching is usually best. You can search for general criticism, criticism of movements, or of individual authors or even poems. When you start with keyword searching, remember to check the Subject(s) for other terms or forms of the words you've used. These will often find more items than your keyword search did.
Books about an author often include analysis of major works. To find books in our general collection, try a keyword search in the HSU Library Catalog, using the author's name and the words criticism and interpretation, for example:
"seamus heaney" criticism interpretation
If this search finds nothing, try:
"rita dove" criticism
Long poems may have entire books written about them. In this case, their titles are part of the subject heading, e.g.:
Eliot, T.S. (Thomas Stearns), 1888-1965. Waste Land.
To find these books, use Advanced Search in the HSU Library Catalog, and search for eliot and waste land in subject. If that search returns nothing, you may be able to find criticism of individual books with a keyword search, in Basic Search, like this:
heaney "station island" criticism
Though specific search protocols may vary, these techniques will find books in the catalogs of other libraries, too. You can request such books on interlibrary loan, if our library doesn't have what you need.
FOR MORE HELP WITH ANY OF YOUR RESEARCH NEEDS, PLEASE ASK A LIBRARIAN