The UB Poetry Collection
by Heather Cook
The hidden treasure that all bookish-beings dream of finding
Tucked away in the University at Buffalo, rests a poetry collection like no other. Behind the glass walls, rests William Carlos Williams’ writing desk and Larry Eigner’s 1940s type writer. For some, it stands as a research center, but for others it stands as an extraordinary literary museum. The Poetry Collection was founded by Charles Abbott in 1937. 78 years later, it holds one of the most renowned collections of 20th- and 21st-century first-edition poetry in English. In addition, it houses many “little magazines,” anthologies, art collections and the largest James Joyce collected works in the world. Athira Unni, a former UB English and Sociology undergraduate, says that she “found the fact that there was so much of Joyce and Frost, along with a number of ‘little books’ or poetry journals with numerous not so famous poets, in the same collection, really inspiring.” The assortment contributes to its uniqueness.
Every year, scholars and researchers travel far and wide to swoon over rare archives for research—and for pleasure. All of these pieces are non-circulating and available for use in the reading room, upon request. Intellectuals are often mentored individually by staff members in order to facilitate valuable experiences. “The Associate Curator, Dr. James Maynard, is renowned for his work and is ever helpful to get you any material you need. He also works with student groups such as UB English Club and from personal experience, UB Literary Club and finds time in his busy schedule to sit and talk with you about everything available at the Collection,” Unni says. The collection is warm and welcoming to the UB community along with the general public.
UB English majors, among others, are just a building away from literary greatness. Through tours and poetry readings, the vast archive of literary resources has proven inspiring and motivating to students across the campus. For example, the design team of NAME Magazine—UB’s undergraduate literary journal—sifted through the collection several times within a semester in order to find inspiration for the cover and layout of their 2014 edition.
Jamie Gugino, former English and creative writing student and Editor of NAME, says in the collection “We saw covers from accordion style to matchbooks to cigar boxes to shoes to even perishable items like a sandwich.” These innovative covers opened their minds to new ideas. The results were wonderfully unique. The design team splattered 200 vintage record sleeves with NAME’s logo and used them as magazine sleeves. This was fitting because it “blended music, art and poetry while using recycled material that otherwise would have sat somewhere getting dusty,” Gugino says. Much like the Poetry Collection, NAME was able to refresh something old.
English majors joke that the collection is their own secret “Pandora’s Box” because it is not always announced by professors. But their secret is out now. To anyone interested in literary excellence and/or looking to expand their mind, the journey starts at 420 Capen Hall of the University at Buffalo North Campus, 9am-5pm throughout the semester.blog comments powered by Disqus
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