Poetry & Prose: Literary Collections

Cover of a book decorated with colorful flowers and gold details.
Cover, The Child’s Garland of Little Poems, by Matthias Barr with illustrative borders by Hector Giacomelli, 1878, London; New York: Cassell, Petter, and Galpin. Special Collections & Archives, Florida State University Libraries. View digital copy here.

Some of our most exciting collections are connected to literary culture. While the rare books in Special Collections & Archives include first editions of major authors like Lewis Carroll, Paul Laurence Dunbar, Langston Hughes, Robert Burns, Oscar Wilde, and Mary Wollstonecraft, our archival collections also boast artifacts that capture the writerly process in action.

The experimental “cut-ups” William S. Burroughs used to play with poetic formation are preserved alongside the published works that they inspired. Lois Lenski’s illustrated children’s book Strawberry Girl can be seen next to the handwritten, cut apart and glued back together, draft with its sketches and the zinc blocks that were later used to print her sketches into the final volume.

Below, explore our blog posts about poetry and prose collections, and learn more about both the writers you know and those you were destined to discover.


Michael McClure: In Memoriam

On May 4th of this year, one of the great geniuses of poetry and the arts passed away, and we wanted to take a moment here to commemorate his passing. Michael McClure helped launch the counterculture Beat generation alongside Allen Ginsberg, Jack Kerouac, William Burroughs, Philip Whalen, and Diane Di Prima, and is also associatedContinue reading “Michael McClure: In Memoriam”

Summer Quiet

Summer is indeed a quieter time on campus. Today starts the summer term here at FSU and we wish all students the best of luck in their summer classes. We recently posted in DigiNole: FSU’s Digital Repository more volumes of The Girl’s Own Paper, or The Girl’s Own Annual as it was eventually titled. YouContinue reading “Summer Quiet”

The Lord Mayor’s Show

In loading some new titles to the John MacKay Shaw Childhood in Poetry Collection, I noticed an event popping up in several of the texts. The Lord Mayor’s Show, an event still held today, was a popular topic in British children’s books in the 1800s. Children’s books in this era were often used to educateContinue reading “The Lord Mayor’s Show”

“Field Flowers,” a bouquet of poetry from Eugene Field

Long known as the “Poet of Childhood,” Eugene Field is famous for his satirical and whimsical poems that evoke dreams, mischief, and romance. One of his most well-known poems “Wynken, Blynken, and Nod” conjures images of the three eponymous sailors casting nets for stars in a crystal-brilliant sea in a child’s dream.  All night longContinue reading ““Field Flowers,” a bouquet of poetry from Eugene Field”

Poetry in Protest, a new Exhibit in Strozier Library

Poetry can be a powerful tool for eliciting emotion and is frequently used to express dissent or advocate for change. FSU Special Collections & Archives’ latest exhibition, “Poetry in Protest,” explores the genres, tactics, and voices of poets that write against the existing world and imagine societal revolution. As a means of delving into theContinue reading “Poetry in Protest, a new Exhibit in Strozier Library”

Responding to Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Children’s Book Calls for Peace

War & Peace for Children The Special Collections book we’re highlighting today has a very specific mission: to teach children (and perhaps, the adults reading to or with them) about the post-nuclear world, and about the need for peace. On the Wings of Peace: In Memory of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is a 1995 collection ofContinue reading “Responding to Hiroshima and Nagasaki: A Children’s Book Calls for Peace”

Poetic Activism and Ruby Dee

Glowchild, and other Poems, published in 1972, is an anthology of works by black poets on the subjects of “nature, passion, politics, hope, peace, freedom, and other topics, gathered primarily with the inner-city youth in mind” (Catalog Description). The included poems were selected by Ruby Dee, poet, playwright, actress, journalist, and lifelong activist. Nature andContinue reading “Poetic Activism and Ruby Dee”

Welcome to the Year of Poetry: T. S. Eliot and The Waste Land

Happy Poetry Month! This month begins FSU Libraries’ Year of Poetry, April 2018 – April 2019, an entire year of celebration dedicated to poetry in all of its forms and facets. Look out for events on campus that invite you to participate in exploring poetry creation and poetry enjoyment! National Poetry Month is always inContinue reading “Welcome to the Year of Poetry: T. S. Eliot and The Waste Land”

In his “Great Shadow”: Robert Burns’ Legacy

Robert Burns’ ability to spontaneously produce musical and poignant verse earned him the title of “Scotland’s Bard,” and ensured that his legacy would remain especially close to that nation’s people and their descendants. Special Collections & Archives’ forthcoming exhibit, “In his ‘Great Shadow’: Robert Burns’ Legacy,” opening January 22nd, explores not only the lyrical finesseContinue reading “In his “Great Shadow”: Robert Burns’ Legacy”

The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women

The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women, Illustrated by As Many Engravings; Exhibiting Their Principal Eccentricities and Amusements (1820) was recently added to the John MacKay Shaw Collection of Childhood in Poetry. It was published in London by prominent children’s publisher John Harris as part of “Harris’s Cabinet of Amusement and Instruction.” These little books, “printedContinue reading “The History of Sixteen Wonderful Old Women”

New Acquisitions: Naked Lunch

When “Ten Episodes from Naked Lunch” first appeared in The Chicago Review, public outrage over obscenity caused the University of Chicago to suppress its publication. In response, Chicago Review editor Irving Rosenthal founded a new literary journal called Big Table, whose inaugural issue included a reprint of the ten episodes from William S. Burrough’s novel-in-progress. The completed novel was first publishedContinue reading “New Acquisitions: Naked Lunch”

Banned Books Week 2016

Banned Books Week 2016 is here! This year from September 25th to October 1st, we celebrate open access to information and the freedom to read. FSU Special Collections & Archives is host to several frequently challenged and banned classics available for use in our Reading Room, including: The Lord of the Rings, by J.R.R. TolkienContinue reading “Banned Books Week 2016”

A Birthday Letter to John MacKay Shaw: Poet, Book Collector, Scholar, and Lover of Children

Hi Pop! Happy Birthday!! You’ll never guess what I’ve been up to since your 100th birthday. Imitating you, that’s what, or at least trying to. But there’s no way I will ever have your gift of gab, your great love of children, or your extraordinary management skills. You described your books; I’m describing your papers. ThatContinue reading “A Birthday Letter to John MacKay Shaw: Poet, Book Collector, Scholar, and Lover of Children”

Following a Mystery with One of Our Volunteers

Cathmar Prange is the daughter of John MacKay Shaw, the donor and curator for the childhood in poetry collection that bears his name in Special Collections & Archives. Every winter, Cathmar volunteers to continue organizing and curating her father’s collection and has been doing so for 18 years. She is still discovering things to thisContinue reading “Following a Mystery with One of Our Volunteers”

Valentine’s Day

FEBRUARY The sun rides higher Every trip. The sidewalk shows. Icicles drip. A snowstorm comes, And cars are stuck, And ashes fly From the old town truck. The chickadees Grow plump on seed That Mother pours Where they can feed, And snipping, snipping Scissors run To cut out hearts For everyone. by John Updike inContinue reading “Valentine’s Day”

Love is a wild wonder

“Love is a wild wonder And stars that sing, Rocks that burst asunder And mountains that take wing.” – – H A P P Y   B I R T H D A Y   L A N G S T O N   H U G H E S – –

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