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Last Updated: Monday, 12 May, 2003, 12:26 GMT 13:26 UK
Poetry library marks 50 years
Patience Agbabi
UK poet Patience Agbabi is helping to celebrate the milestone
The UK's most comprehensive collection of modern poetry celebrates its 50th anniversary on Monday.

The Poetry Library at the Royal Festival Hall in London houses 90,000 books, magazines and videos of verse.

The library at the South Bank Centre is marking its golden jubilee with a series of debates, talks and events.

They include a gala evening on Wednesday hosted by Poet Laureate Andrew Motion.

The Poetry Library is one of the pure flowerings of the imagination for which the English are so seldom given credit.
Phillip Larkin

Readings will be made by US Poet Laureate Billy Collins, fellow American writer Sharon Olds and leading British poets Patience Agbabi, Carol Ann Duffy and Roger McGough.

The library was set up in 1953 on the recommendation of the Poetry Panel of the Arts Council Great Britain.

TS Eliot was among the speakers at its opening ceremony.

Distinguished visitors over the years have included Seamus Heaney, Ted Hughes, Philip Larkin, Tom Paulin and singer Van Morrison.

Philip Larkin once said of the institution: "The Poetry Library is one of the pure flowerings of the imagination for which the English are so seldom given credit."

Over the years the library has occupied a string of addresses in central London to accommodate its rapid growth.

It moved to the capital's South Bank in 1988, and three years later its catalogue went online.

In January the library opened an extension, which houses poetry from 1912 to the present day.




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