History and Mission
The Poetry Foundation, publisher of Poetry magazine, is an independent literary organization committed to a vigorous presence for poetry in our culture. It exists to discover and celebrate the best poetry and to place it before the largest possible audience.
The Poetry Foundation works to raise poetry to a more visible and influential position in our culture. The Foundation seeks to be a leader in shaping a receptive climate for poetry by developing new audiences, creating new avenues for delivery, and encouraging new kinds of poetry.
Established in 2003 upon receipt of a major gift from philanthropist Ruth Lilly, the Poetry Foundation evolved from the Modern Poetry Association, which was founded in 1941 to support the publication of Poetry magazine. The gift from Ruth Lilly allowed the Poetry Foundation to expand and enhance the presence of poetry in the United States and established an endowment that will fund Poetry magazine in perpetuity.
2020-2021 Annual Report
Download the Foundation’s annual report.
Programs of the Poetry Foundation
With Poetry magazine as its flagship initiative, the Foundation pursues its mission to celebrate and share the best poetry with the largest audiences through a family of programs.
Founded in Chicago by Harriet Monroe in 1912, Poetry is the oldest monthly devoted to verse in the English-speaking world. Harriet Monroe’s “Open Door” policy, set forth in volume 1 of the magazine, remains the most succinct statement of Poetry’s mission: to print the best poetry written today, in whatever style, genre, or approach. The magazine established its reputation early by publishing the first important poems of T.S. Eliot, Ezra Pound, Marianne Moore, Wallace Stevens, H.D., William Carlos Williams, Carl Sandburg, and other now-classic authors. In succeeding decades it has presented—often for the first time—works by virtually every significant poet of the 20th and 21st centuries. Poetry has always been independent, unaffiliated with any institution or university—or with any single poetic or critical movement or aesthetic school. It continues to print the major English-speaking poets while presenting emerging talents in all their variety. In recent years, more than a third of the authors published in the magazine have been writers appearing for the first time. On average, the magazine receives more than 150,000 submissions per year from around the world.
The Poetry Foundation hosts a robust schedule of free live events throughout the year. Ranging from poetry readings to staged plays to concerts, events have also included artist collaborations, exhibition openings, musical and other performances. View our current events schedule.
Free and open to all, the Poetry Foundation presents engaging, multifaceted exhibitions that bring together visual arts and the written word three times a year. Inhabit poetry through archival displays that locate emerging and established poets in the visual and tactile material of their time.
The Poetry Foundation uses emerging technology to reach and engage a broad audience for poetry. Through its award-winning website, mobile applications, and social media, the Foundation seeks to create new readers of poetry, serve existing poetry fans, and support Foundation initiatives and programs.
The National Endowment for the Arts and the Poetry Foundation partner with U.S. state arts agencies to support Poetry Out Loud, a contest that encourages the nation’s youth to learn about great poetry through memorization and recitation. This program helps high school students master public speaking skills, build self-confidence, and learn about their literary heritage.
Through active partnerships and sponsorships, the Foundation works to place poetry before the widest possible audience and raise it to a more visible and influential position in American culture. The Poetry Foundation helps support an enhanced presence for poetry in each of the major media channels: print, radio, television, film, and new media.
The Poetry Foundation’s Pegasus Awards are a family of prizes that serve to discover and celebrate what is best in poetry. They also directly support and reward poets. The annual Ruth Lilly Poetry Prize honors a living U.S. poet whose lifetime accomplishments warrant extraordinary recognition. The Ruth Lilly and Dorothy Sargent Rosenberg Poetry Fellowships are awarded to young U.S. poets each year to encourage them in the early stages of their careers. A Children’s Poet Laureate or Young People’s Poet Laureate is appointed every two years, honoring the work of a living American poet who writes exceptional poetry for younger readers. Other awards are presented from time to time as warranted.
The Poetry Foundation Library is the Midwest’s only library dedicated to poetry. Visitors to the library may browse a collection of 30,000 volumes, experience audio and video recordings in private listening booths, and view exhibits of poetry-related materials. In addition to providing public access to its collections in the form of a reading room, the library hosts interactive programs to inspire a wider readership for poetry in people of all ages. Learn more about using the library.
OVERSIGHT AND GOVERNANCE
The Poetry Foundation is a 501(c)(3) organization. Read more about the Poetry Foundation’s financial information.
Chicago, IL 60654
Sunday, Monday, Tuesday: Closed
Wednesday, Friday, Saturday: 11 AM - 4 PM
Thursday: 11 AM - 8 PM
Guests who wish to enter the Poetry Foundation building will be required to follow the policies outlined in our COVID-19 Health & Safety Guidelines.