Though we’re currently unable to welcome visitors to the National Poetry Library, behind the scenes we continue to collect all new UK poetry publications for children and adults, ready for reopening later this year. In 2014 we launched an ebook collection and during lockdown this has really come into its own, enabling our members to continue to read the latest poetry publications. Over the last few months we have added to the books and audio available for children and young people poetrylibrary.overdrive.com
Children’s poets featured range from stellar names such as Roger McGough, Grace Nichols and Michael Rosen, through to new stars on the scene including Joseph Coelho, Matt Goodfellow and Kate Wakeling. Recent additions are the anthologies Midnight Feasts: Tasty Poems edited by A. F. Harrold with illustrations by Katy Riddell (shortlisted for the 2020 Clippa Poetry Award), I Bet I Can Make You Laugh poems by Joshua Seigel and friends, and young adult verse novel Punching the Air by Ibi Zoboi and prison reform activist Yusef Salaam. The collection ranges from titles for the very young through to novels in verse for teenagers. Audio highlights include beloved American children’s poet Jack Prelutsky reading his work and The Lost Words by Robert Macfarlane and Jackie Morris, read by Edith Bowman, Guy Garvey, Cerys Matthews and Benjamin Zephaniah.
The ebooks work in much the same way as the physical books in our collection. A title can be borrowed by one person for up to two weeks. We allow a member to loan two titles at a time and reserve two titles. They can be read or listened to on a laptop or computer through the web browser, or the Overdrive app can be downloaded and they can also be accessed on a tablet or smartphone. Members can also make recommendations.
We host our eloans through Overdrive, so a title has to be available on the Overdrive platform for us to be able to purchase it for the collection. What has been encouraging for us this last year is to have some publishers contact Overdrive to get their books added to the platform so we can offer them to our members.
The service is free to join. All we require is proof of a UK address via email. The parents or guardians of under-16s can sign up on their behalf. Email firstname.lastname@example.org for more information (and with any other poetry related questions – our enquiry service remains open).
At this time of year we’d usually be gearing up for the Imagine Children’s Literature Festival at Southbank Centre, when we host poetry readings for children in the library. Three of our past Imagine events can be found on Soundcloud:
Poems from a Green and Blue Planet a celebration of this anthology of poems about the natural world led by its editor Sabrina Mahfouz.
Amazingly Magical Poems featuring two of our favourite picture book poets, Peter Bently and Jeanne Willis, and teller of tall tales, Andra Simons.
Incredibly Incorrigible Poems featuring Liz Brownlee, John Lyons and Kate Wakeling.
We can’t wait to welcome families and class visits back to the National Poetry Library when it’s safe to reopen but in the meantime we hope our ebook collection and audio might provide a diversion during the current lockdown.
Lorraine Mariner is an Assistant Librarian at the National Poetry Library and has published two poetry collections for adults with Picador, Furniture (2009) and There Will Be No More Nonsense (2014). She has recently published a chapbook with Grey Suit Editions Anchorage (2020).