Shatford Library

Shatford Library

Poetry: Finding poems, criticism, and information about poets

1. Library Catalog - Find Books, Media and Pamphlets

The library catalog is a database of books, media, pamphlets and course reserves located in the library's collection. To find resources in the library by subject, you will need a call number which is based on the Dewey Decimal or Library of Congress Classification System and leads you to the specific item on the shelf. To find the call number, use the library catalog. (

Basic Search

Use the Basic Search to look for an item using keyword anywhere or in a specific field (eg. title field or subject field).

To find information about a person, use Basic Search within Subject Browse (select from the drop down menu).

To find information on a topic, you can use your keyword search results to identify library subject headings or you can select the Subject tab and type in a library subject heading.

Subject headings:

  • Angelou, Maya
  • Angelou, Maya - Criticism and interpretation
  • Poetry

Related subjects (Narrower, Broader and See also)

  • Children's Poetry
  • Poetry - Themes, motives

To search for a title you have two options: 1. select title from the drop down menu (to search by title keyword) or 2. select title browse from the drop down menu, to search by exact title wording. (Skip the first word of the title if it is an article, e.g. 'a', 'an' or 'the').

To search by author, select the Author tab, then type in the author's last name, first name, e.g. 'Frost, Robert'.

Advanced Search

Advanced Search is used to combine topics, select search fields, and use other limitors to narrow a search.  You may want to search for an item using part of a title and selecting the title field from the drop down menu.  Another option is to search by ISBN.

  • Example: Poetry (all of these, keyword anywhere) AND Vietnam (all of these, keyword anywhere)

Examples of combined searches:

Search for: Poetry Criticism[all of these], Search in: [ Subject]
Search for: Feminism [all of these], Search in: [Keyword Anywhere]

Search for: Writing Authorship [any of these], Search in: [Keyword Anywhere]
Search for: Poetry [all of these], Search in: [Keyword Anywhere]

[Top of Page]

2. Reference Books

Basically, there are two kinds of reference books: general resources, which are broad in scope and deal with all fields; and specialized resources, which deal with specific disciplines such as Literature. The titles cited below are only a representative sample of many specialized reference books that are available in the library (main floor).

General Literary Criticism Sources

  • REF 809 C 1       Contemporary Literary Criticism
  • REF 821.09 M 8  Critical Survey of Poetry
  • REF 809.1 C 1    Critical Survey of Poetry:  Foreign Language Series
  • REF 803 E 1       The Explicator Cyclopedia
  • REF 809 N 7       Nineteenth Century Literary Criticism
  • REF 809.1 P 4    Poetry Criticism
  • REF 809.1 P 5    Poetry for Students
  • REF 809 T 5       Twentieth Century Literary Criticism

Ask the Reference Librarian for help using these sources/indexes.  Use the index to find the specific volume and page for the author.

Indexes to Criticism of Poetry (books that direct the user to other books)

  • REF 016.821 A 1  American and British Poetry
  • REF 016.821 C 1  An Index to Criticisms of British and American Poetry
  • REF 016.811 G 1  Contemporary Poetry in America and England 1950-1975
  • REF 016.811 G 2  Guide to American Poetry Explication
  • 016.821 K 1-2       Poetry Explication

Biographical Information

  • REF 928 C 3-3  Contemporary Poets
  • REF 928 D 2     Dictionary of Literary Biography (Check index in latest volume for specific poets) 

v. 5, 105, 120, 165, 169, 193 American Poets since World War II

v. 19 British Poets, 1880-1914

v. 20 British Poets, 1914-1945

v. 32 Victorian Poets Before 1850

v. 35 Victorian Poets After 1850

v. 40 Poets of Great Britain and Ireland since 1960

v. 41 Afro-American Poets Since 1955

v. 45, 48, 54 American Poets, 1880-1945

v. 108, 134  Twentieth Century Spanish Poets

v. 199 Victorian Women Poets

v. 258 Modern French Poets

v. 114, 128 Twentieth Century Italian Poets

Specialized Dictionaries and Encyclopedias

  • REF 809.103 P 1  The Poet's Dictionary: A Handbook of Prosody and Poetic Devices

    Brief definitions of various poetic devices with a larger overview of their uses.

  • REF 809.103 E 1-2  New Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics

    Survey of 106 national poetries, descriptions of poetic forms and genres, overview of all major schools of poetry, ancient and modern.

Specialized Index

  • REF 808.1 G 1  Granger's Index to Poetry

    Tells where a poem can be found in a particular collection of poetry.  Then use the library catalog Basic Search, Title Browse to see if we own that collection.

[Top of Page]

3. Databases and Indexes - Find Articles

  • Use Literature Resource Center, Salem Literature, Project Muse, JStor and Biography Resource Center for biographical information and criticism. (From the library home page select Browse Databases by Name. (
[Top of Page]

4. Resources on the World Wide Web

Finding reliable information on the web can be difficult.
Use the ipl2 site or see recommended websites below.

Bob's Byway: a poetic diversion Definitions, glossary of poetic terms, quotations
Use a Search Engine such as Google or Yahoo
Key in the word poetry and the name of the poet ; eg. poetry Longfellow or type in the title of a poem and the poet's name for a specific poem.  The results will be items about the author, works by the author, and assorted web pages that have nothing to do with your primary interest.  Learn to evaluate information; not all of it will pertain to what you are seeking.  You may want to limit your search to academic sites by typing in your search
[Top of Page]

last updated: 06/15/2011 by P. Johnson revision #4