Gems of the collection

Working in the stacks

By JULIE BROWN, library assistant and PAT HALLAM, librarian

  • Kevin Crossley-Holland, Norfolk Poems, illustrated with photographs by John Hedgecoe.

  • Elaine Feinstein, At the Edge.

  • Ruth Fainlight, Two fire poems, Two wind poems, The function of tears.

  • There is early work by Tony Harrison, Newcastle is Peru written just before he moved to Newcastle and which must be one of the earliest acquisitions of the then-new NPL (published 1969).

  • Simon Armitage’s first collection Human geography (1986) Smiths Doorstop.

  • Acknowledged Land by Linda France and Birtley Aris, published in 1993 to mark the 25th anniversary of the NPL and the festival, Different Voices’ that was held to celebrate that milestone.

  • Drawings, verse and belief by Bernard Leach that includes original drawings.

  • Hugh MacDiarmid – two complete volumes, along with other works of his.

  • The set of Penguin Modern poets – irreplaceable.

  • The Oxford Books of… Seventeenth Century Verse, Scottish Verse etc.

  • The entire children’s poetry section is priceless and timeless including a junior voices set of poetry.

  • Anne Stevenson's A Morden Tower Reading

A rummage in the anthologies section

By Lisa Matthews, Lead Poet

As a working writer and publishing poet lucky enough to be based close to NPL I was already familiar with the stock having used it many times over the years. However, in Jul/Aug 2015 I spent a month immersed in the books and journals. One section I hadn’t really accessed before – usually I went looking for a specific poet – was the adult anthology: a unique A-Z (by title) collection of anthologies covering a huge cross-section of subjects. Here are just some of the things I found during my summer residency in the library:

  • Alphabetical and letter poems, a “chrestomathy”
  • Cowboy poetry, several volumes, including Graining the mare: the poetry of ranch women
  • Poems by veterinary surgeons
  • Poem sheet fold-outs
  • Brand-X Poetry – parody poems
  • Women’s verse from the Second World War
  • Poetry from so many countries that I stopped writing them down
  • Kissing the Rod: An Anthology of 17th Century Women’s Verse
  • Animal poems
  • Poems to be read aloud
  • The poetry of sex
  • Short poems
  • Portraits of poets

In a month I only scratched the surface of this intriguing anthology section. And some of NPL’s most popular volumes are housed within it: poems for key life moments such as births, marriages and deaths.

The library is not a shrine for the worship of books. It should be the delivery room for the birth of ideas – a place where history comes to life.Norman Cousins, US political journalist and writer

Find us…

The Northern Poetry Library
The Chantry
Bridge Street
NE61 1PD

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Opening times

  • Monday 10am - 5pm
  • Tuesday 10am - 5pm
  • Wednesday 10am - 5pm
  • Thursday 10am - 5pm
  • Friday 10am - 5pm
  • Saturday 10am - 5pm

Book search

The collection can be searched and reserved through the Library Online Catalogue.

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Website content by Lead Poet Lisa Matthews
Site designed & developed by Lemony Design
Site photography by Phyllis Christopher
Credits for poems, books and artworks
Thanks to Staff at Morpeth Library for their support, expertise and passion


In addition to Arts Council England, Active Northumberland and Northumberland County Council, the project is partnered and supported by Newcastle University with Newcastle Centre for the Literary Arts, New Writing North, Palace Green Library at Durham University, Woodhorn Museum in Northumberland, the Scottish Poetry Library, Carcanet Press and the Lit & Phil, Newcastle. Find out more about the project and its supporters.