The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library

The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library is a 75,000-volume collection of rare and first editions of modern and contemporary poetry. Assembled by collector Raymond Danowski over twenty-five years, the collection is thought to have been the largest poetry library in private hands until its arrival at Emory in 2004. The numerous rare books, chapbooks, little magazines, journals, broadsides, audio recordings, manuscripts, and visual art in the collection come from the United States, Britain, Ireland, Australia, India, Canada, Scotland, and South Africa. Remarkable for its range and depth, the library represents Raymond Danowski's desire to gather every book of poetry published in English. This article published by the Poetry Foundation offers a snapshot of the collection process.

Collection Highlights

  • The collection begins with a first edition of Walt Whitman's Leaves of Grass, printed by its author and published on July 4, 1855. With an ownership signature from July 1855, this copy is thought to be the known earliest signed copy.
  • One of eleven known copies of William Carlos Williams' first book, Poems (1909), which was never reprinted
  • A first edition of T. S. Eliot's Prufrock and Other Observations (1917), inscribed to his close friend Emily Hale
  • Limited editions by Langston Hughes, with corrections in his own hand
  • Anne Sexton's personal, heavily annotated copy of Sylvia Plath's Ariel (1965)
  • Individual author collections, notable for their breadth and depth, including W. H. Auden, Gwendolyn Brooks, Charles Bukowski, Allen Ginsberg, and William Carlos Williams

A Living Collection

The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library is a living entity, constantly expanding and connecting with modern-day work thanks to new acquisitions, an ongoing reading series, and other initiatives.

The first major exhibition of the collection was curated by Kevin Young in 2008 and it highlighted the democratic qualities of the collection. It was titaled: "Democratic Vistas: Exploring the Raymond Danowski Poetry Library." You can explore the exhibit through this Democratic Vistas Slideshow. An exhibition catalog written by Kevin Young is also available from the Rose Library for $40. To purchase, please contact the Rose Library.

Search the Catalog

All of the works in The Raymond Danowski Poetry Library will be cataloged in the Emory University Libraries' online catalog, Discover-E. First, enter the term "danowski." After you receive results, refine your search results by choosing the "Raymond Danowski Poetry Library" under the heading "Collections."