75. Institute Issues Recommendations for Improving Access to Poetry

Study to improve distribution of poetry in new media develops recommendations for poets, publishers, and literary organizations

CHICAGO — The Poetry Foundation is pleased to announce the first report of the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute (HMPI). In 2009, the Institute convened a panel of poets, publishers, and experts from the fields of media, law, and technology to examine issues related to the access of poetry on the Internet and related new media. As a result of the study, the HMPI has released a white paper intended to help poetry come more effectively into new-media outlets so that it will be more accessible to various audiences.

The white paper’s recommendations are intended for use by poets and others in the poetry community as a tool to help them rethink their relationship to copyright and fair use and thus to develop permissions practices that allow the greatest possible access to poems while still protecting the rights of creators. The report also includes recommendations intended to help the poetry community use new media for poetry education. The full report is available for free download at www.poetryfoundation.org/institute.

In order to maintain the value of accessibility as a top priority, the report provides a list of questions that poets and rights-holders can ask themselves when making licensing and permissions decisions. Also included in the report are specific recommendations for poets who may need advice in handling their wills and estates and a list of action items for poets and other members of the poetry community who are interested in lobbying for greater commitment and access to poetry from political and educational establishments. Finally, the report recommends that leading poets and poetry organizations work together to create a central online portal or aggregating website through which educators and others interested in learning more about poetry can find the best existing poetry websites. This last recommendation reflects a chief concern of the HMPI’s inaugural report, the need for poets and poetry organizations to work together to achieve common goals.

“The report is also meant to inspire substantive community action,” noted Katharine Coles, HMPI director. “For example, the Center for Social Media, in a spin-off project, is working with the poetry community to create a Best Practices for Fair Use in Poetry document, while the University of California at Berkeley College of Law is working with the HMPI to develop a clinic related to fair use of poetry in education, with a focus on electronic media.”

A policy forum dedicated exclusively to issues of intellectual and practical importance to poetry, the Institute, named for Poetry magazine founder Harriet Monroe, has as its purpose to convene interested parties to identify issues and champion common solutions for the benefit of poets and the art form of poetry.

Advisors on the Institute’s new-media project included poets Michael Collier, Wyn Cooper, Rita Dove, Cornelius Eady, Kimiko Hahn, Lewis Hyde, Robert Pinsky, Claudia Rankine, and Alberto Ríos; publishers Kate Gale, Fiona McCrae, and Don Selby; nonprofit administrator David Fenza; computer scientist Rick Stevens; and law professors Jennifer Urban and Monica Youn.

In addition, the HMPI has announced its second project, POETRY ALIVE: Bringing Poetry into Communities, to be published in 2011, which will comprise essays by 10 poets with national and international reputations discussing important programs and vehicles for bringing poetry into specific communities.

In addition to the essays and building from them, the book will include an appendix, which will draw from the strategies discussed in the essays and will serve as a kind of flexible toolkit for people and organizations interested in bringing poetry to their own communities. Poets to be included in the project include Robert Hass, Elizabeth Alexander, Patricia Smith, Luis Rodriguez, Bas Kwakman, Lee Briccetti, Alison Hawthorne Deming, Dana Gioia, Anna Deavere Smith, and Thomas Lux.

For more information on the Harriet Monroe Poetry Institute, please visit www.poetryfoundation.org/institute.

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