I just came across this new Poetry Foundation building in Chicago by John Ronan Architects. It’s…. all right. In fact, from what I can see in the pictures, it offers some lovely moments. But poetic? I don’t know if I can stretch that far.
One of my favourite buildings in Edinburgh is the Scottish Poetry Library by Malcolm Fraser Architects. It’s tucked away down a narrow close (alleyway) off the Royal Mile, and it’s a small building but packs a big dose of quirky charm. I love how neatly it fits into its context, how clever the use of materials is, and how underwhelming it is. It presents itself – and by extension poetry – as an old, comfortable friend who has interesting taste.
The thing is, though (and this is something I think a lot about as an American abroad) I wonder how much culture has to do with it? Presumably the building in Chicago houses poetry from many cultures; whereas the Scottish poetry library need only capture the Scottish genius loci – in literature as well as place. Does being such a heterogenous country make America too bland?
I got curious enough to spend five minutes googling poetry libraries, but didn’t have much joy. Does anyone know of other poetry libraries that have their own dedicated building – and what are they like?