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Getting to Know The Poets House

January 3, 2012

Today, I started interning at The Poets House library. It was every bit as fun and interesting as I could have hoped. I’m going to be helping the librarian (a Pratt alum) with some basic library tasks, learning and getting experience.

Some things I have learned:

It is a cold, cold walk from the subway to The Poet’s House, which is at just about the south-west-est end of downtown Manhattan.

The Poets’ House has lovely, big windows, so even on a wintry day, it gets bathed in light. Like an aerie. There are comfy chairs, too. I foresee doing some school reading curled up in one.

I think I have read a good amount of poetry. The shelves at the Poets’ House told me otherwise. Poets I hadn’t read! Poets I had read, but books I hadn’t! Poets I’ve never heard of! Poetry in languages I don’t speak. It was simultaneously humbling and intriguing. And sometimes bizarre. There’s a book of sonnets written in the persona of George W. Bush! It exists!

I kind of want to walk around the shelves with a little notebook to jot down books and poets that look interesting. But that would get cumbersome, as mostly I had armloads of books. I did see some spines of volumes I have on my own shelves. And I smiled at them. “Hi there, Thomas Lux! Hey there, Billy Collins… wait, did I miss two new collections?”

Most of what I did today was work on the new books they’d gotten in, and hunt through the shelves for duplicates. This is easier to do with individual poets than anthologies. The anthology shelving system is complex, and I’m pretty sure there’s a learning curve for everyone.

It was my first encounter with doing Real Library Things, and it leaves me optimistic. Nice people, a really lovely space, surrounded by poetry. And there’s something zen about shelving. This whole library science thing is feeling like a pretty good idea.


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