Poets House is a national literary center and poetry library based in New York City. With more than 60,000 volumes of poetry, the library is the premier independent poetry library in the United States. It is free and open to the public.
Founded in 1985 by the late Stanley Kunitz, two-time poet laureate of the United States, and arts administrator Elizabeth Kray, Poets House contains virtually all poetry books published in the U.S. since 1990, plus many that are long out of print dating to the early 20th Century. It also contains literary journals and chapbooks (small, self-published books of poetry), and many audiotapes, videotapes, CDs, and DVDs of poetry readings from the mid-twentieth century through today. Visitors to Poets House can hear the voices of Walt Whitman, E. E. Cummings, William Carlos Williams, Sylvia Plath and hundreds of other poets.
Every year, Poets House hosts the Poets House Showcase, which gathers and displays every book of poetry published in the United States in the preceding year. Poets House also curates and presents hundreds of readings, lectures, panels, symposiums and performances each year.
In 1996, the literary newspaper Poetry Flash called Poets House "The House That Holds A Country," a reference to its dedication to being a caretaker of the nation's poetic heritage.
In 2005, it was among 406 New York City arts and social service institutions to receive part of a $20 million grant from the Carnegie Corporation, which was made possible through a donation by New York City mayor Michael Bloomberg.
In 2009, Poets House moved from its longstanding location in SoHo to an eco-friendly "green" building at Ten River Terrace in Lower Manhattan's Battery Park City. With a long-term lease (until 2069) awarded by the Battery Park City Authority, Poets House has a permanent home for its collection.
This new home for Poets House, with interiors designed by architect Louise Braverman, is on two floors covering 11,000 square feet (1,000 m2) with a large children's room, an exhibition space, a reading room and library, and a program hall that opens onto an extension of Teardrop Park. With views of the Hudson River and the Statue of Liberty, the new Poets House is bordered by Nelson A Rockefeller Park and is in walking distance of numerous subway and bus lines as well as the Port Authority Ferry Terminal at the World Financial Center. A public grand opening of the new facility took place on September 25 and 26 of 2009.
"For nearly 25 years Poets House has been an anchor for poets and poetry lovers," noted Robin Pogrebin in the New York Times.
Poets House is free and open to the public. Library hours are Tuesday-Friday, 11am to 7pm, and Saturdays, 11am to 6pm. The Children's Room is open 11am to 3pm.
- "Poets House showcase" on the Poets House website
- Roberts, Sam (July 6, 2005). "City Groups Get Bloomberg Gift of $20 Million". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2012.
- Pogrebin, Robin (September 24, 2009). "Transparent New Home for Poetry". The New York Times. Retrieved September 19, 2012.