Sometimes even the most famous poets are not immediately recognizable--you know the name, but maybe not the face. So readers looking for the visage behind the verse, or hoping to spot poets on street corners, the American Poetry Review photo records offers a perfect, and possibly voyeuristic, solution.
Founded in 1972, the American Poetry Review is one of the most widely circulated poetry magazines, and, as such, possesses a cache of poet glossies, many historic and rare. In 1999, the Rare Book & Manuscript Library of the University of Pennsylvania acquired the magazine's archives. After sorting through the materials, the library decided to scan the extensive collection of photographs and put them online for all to see, as part of their mission to make their holdings accessible to the public.
The archive is easily navigable, with photographs grouped alphabetically according to the poet's last name. Although the site does not serve as an on-going repository, it contains more than enough to keep the curious satisfied, with over 2,000 photos of more than 1,000 poets. The archive is not limited to photos--there are illustrations and manuscripts as well, including a handwritten copy of "Arrival at Santos" by Elizabeth Bishop. The site may offer visitors a few snickers as well, along with a bit of embarrassment for its subjects. For in its thirty-year history, the photographer's lens has captured a fascinating array of poet fashions, accessories, hairstyles, and poses.