Olin C. Bailey Library


A Librarian's Guide to Poetry 



Poetry Indexes & Bibliographies 

Granger’s Index to Poetry                             R 016.80881 G765i10
Guide to American Poetry Explication               R 016.81109 G941r

Handbooks & Dictionaries 

Poetry Handbook:  A Dictionary of Terms          R 808.1 D489p4
Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics                  R 809.103 En19
Twentieth-Century Literary Movements            R 809.9103 T918h

Criticism & Biographical Information 

Literary Criticism (brown books)                        R 809.04
Dictionary of Literary Biography (blue books)     R 811.509-5409 (American poets)
Magill’s Critical Survey of Poetry                           R 809.1 C869m2
Masterplots II Poetry Series                                 R 809.1 M393m
Contemporary Women Poets                                R 811.5409 C767s
Contemporary Poets                                          R 928.21 C767v6

Online Catalog (http://baileylib.hendrix.edu)

These subject headings will bring “sure success” when searched in the keyword or subject heading categories:

Free verse                                Poetry modern
Imagist poetry                          Poetry of places
Poetry                                      Poets  
Poetry and children                   Women poets
Poetry history and criticism   

Some tips:

  • Keyword:  most flexible, most results
  • Subject:  more restrictive, categories, works like an index, idea farm.
  • Title:  more restrictive, have precise titles, works like an index. 
  • Modify/Limit:  limit by language or location.  Ex.:  media center 
  • If searching for criticism on an author, search in the keyword category and include the words criticism.  Ex:  Wallace Stevens and criticism



  • Go to the “Advanced Search” option.
  • Use connectors:  and, or, not.  Default is to search as a phrase!
  • Use truncation:  * on the end of your term retrieves variant endings.  Example:  dram* retrieves drama, dramatic, but also dramamine!
  • Use wildcards: ? can substitute for one or more letters, and accounts for spelling variations.  Example:  theat?? retrieves theater and theatre; wom?n retrieves woman and women.
  • Use the index to find the names of authors and journals.

Humanities Abstracts Full Text 

  • Use the “SearchPlus” feature.
  • Use the “Browse” button to find how the database uses your term – this is especially useful in searching for authors’ names.
  • Limit your search by article type and/or date.
  • Use * on the end of your term for variant endings, and ? for variant spellings.
  • Use the “History” button to combine searches.

Literature Online (Primary & Secondary Resources)

  • Use the menu on the left to search for authors, poems (texts), and criticism or browse through complete contents, journals, authors, and clips.
  • Use and, or, near, and not.  Default is to search as a phrase!
  • Use * on the end of your term for variant endings, and ? for variant spellings.
  • Take advantage of “select from a list” to find the “right” words to search by.
  • Quick Search will not search full text of poems, does not search as a phrase, and does not allow searching with and, or, near, and not.

Literature Resource Center (Secondary Resources)

  • Search “Authors by Type” if you want to see authors in different categories such as lifespan, ethnicity, nationality, genre, etc.
  • Pay attention to the tabs – you view your results by type of document (biography, criticism, etc).
  • Use the Literary Encyclopedia to look up subjects.
  • Use and, or, and not, and quotes for phrase searching.
  • Use * on the end of your term for variant endings, and ? for variant spellings.
  • Apostrophes and ampersands (&) are not recognized.

Project MUSE 

  • Use quotations (e.g. "paradise lost") to search for phrases.
  • If desired, combine terms by typing Boolean operators AND, OR, and NOT, or type terms in separate boxes and use the pull-downs at the left of the search boxes.
  • Select fields to search from the right-hand pulldowns. 
  • Use truncation (*) on the end of your term to search for plurals or parts of words.
  • If needed, use limits to narrow the search results to specific sets of journals or articles.


If we don’t have the journal you need, please check UCA’s catalog, BearCat.  If they don’t have what you need, you can always order your article through interlibrary loan.  See a librarian for more information. 

Web Sites  

Modern American Poetry
     Online journal and multimedia companion to
     Anthology of Modern American Poetry. 

     The Academy of American Poets



Last Modified on 11/17/2009