The Poetry mss., 1954-2002, consist primarily of the correspondence, individual issue make-ups and proofs of Poetry (formerly called Poetry: A Magazine of Verse) published in Chicago, Illinois. The official owner and publisher of the magazine is the Modern Poetry Association. Editors of the magazine include poet Karl Jay Shapiro (1913-2000) in 1954-1955; poet Henry Rago (1915-1969) from October 1955 until Fall 1968; Canadian poet Daryl Hine from 1968-1977. Poet and translator John Frederick Nims (1913-1999) served as editor immediately following Hine through 1983 and Joseph Parisi, succeeding Nims in 1983, served through Spring 2003. The files of Poetry magazine from its founding in 1912 through 1960 are located at the University of Chicago Library's Department of special Collections. The records of Poetry held by The Lilly Library, Indiana University, date for the most part from 1962 and the Lilly continues to acquire the journal's correspondence and publication files on a yearly basis.
The collection is organized into the following series: I. Correspondence; II. Business and Financial; III. Writings. An inventory is available.
The correspondence comprises the letters sent to Poetry and replies thereto by Henry Rago and by others who have been members of the editorial staff or the official Board: Wallace Fowlie, Donald Gallup, Hugh Kenner, J. Patrick Lannan, Helen Lothrop, Karl Jay Shapiro, Julie McLauchlin, Donald H. Merwin, Robert Mueller, John Frederick Nims, Ann Peyton, Maryanne Schaefer, Joseph Wiley, and Elizabeth (Van Valkenberg) Wright. Occasionally poems sent in by a writer have been retained in the correspondence. Those letters marked with an "x" and initialed "HR" indicate that the poem was rejected by Henry Rago for inclusion in Poetry and was returned to the writer.
The Business and Financial series includes "Rate Books" wherein the amounts paid to the authors for their works are noted.
The Writings series consists of the manuscripts of poems, galleys, page proofs, and author proofs of the monthly issues of Poetry for the years 1962-2002. Included is the printer's manuscript of the poems of seventeen poets, whose works appeared in the fiftieth anniversary issue of October-November, 1962: Conrad Aiken, John Berryman, Louise Bogan, John Ciardi, James Vincent Cunningham, Robert Graves, Randall Jarrell, Stanley Kunitz, Hugh MacDiarmid, William Charles Franklyn Plomer, Kathleen Raine, Henry Rago, Muriel Rukeyser, Karl Jay Shapiro, Stephen Spender, Vernon Watkins, and William Carlos Williams. Printed materials consist of a scrapbook of poetry clippings assembled by Daniel B. Rumpf of Topeka, Kansas.