English - Poetry

This guide focuses on searching for information about poetry. Depending on your research assignment's requirements, you may wish to include a variety of resources, such as books, eBooks, periodicals, and websites to support your chosen topic. Please note: for remote access to search databases, you may be prompted for your NSU userID and password.

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Library of Congress (LC-call numbers on how materials are organized)
Ask a Librarian (research assistance and ways to contact NSU Librarians)


NSU Libraries Homepage Overview (Introduction to the library web site and commonly used features)
Boolean Operators (How to refine your searches)
EBSCOhost (Searching in Multiple Library Databases)
Evaluating Websites (YouTube video from Pollak Library, California State University - Fullerton)
Peer Review Journals (Finding scholarly or peer reviewed articles - YouTube video)
Plagiarism: How to avoid it (YouTube video from Bainbridge State College)
EBSCOhost (Finding information using EBSCOhost databases - Vendor tutorial)

Library Books:

Use the Library Discovery system to search for books that provide biographical information, poetry collections, and criticisms about a poem. For a collection of poems by a poet, do an author search through the Library Catalog. If there are no collections by a specific poet, use Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry (Ref. PN 1022.H39) to locate specific poems by a poet found in anthologies. Use the Library Catalog to locate the anthologies by title or compiler.

Biographical information:
Full-length biographies on many poets may be found by using the  Library Catalog by doing a subject search on the poet's last name or look for information about a poet in the EBSCOhost eBook Collection. Print books and eBooks are available that provide a brief biographical overview of a poet.  Use the database WorldCat (OCLC) to search for books in other libraries in addition to NSU libraries.

American Authors, 1600-1900:  A Biographical Dictionary (Ref. PS21.K8)
British and Irish Poets: A Biographical Dictionary, 449-2006 (Ref. PR502.B67)
British Authors Before 1800 (Ref. PR105.K9)
British Authors of the Nineteenth Century (Ref. PR451.K8)
Contemporary Poets (Ref. PR603.C6)
Dictionary of Literary Biography (Ref. PN451.D32)
The Historical Dictionary of the Beat Movement (PS228.B6 V37) eBook - search by title in the EBSCOhost eBook Collection
Lives of the Poets (PR502.S35 - Main collection) Biography and history and criticism
Notable Poets (eBook - search by title in the EBSCOhost eBook Collection)
Something About the Author (Ref. PN451 .S6)
The Princeton Encyclopedia of Poetry and Poetics (eBook - search by title in the EBSCOhost eBook Collection)
Twentieth Century Authors (Ref. PN771.K86)

Example author:
Elizabeth Bishop: Life and the Memory of It (for the eBook search by title in EBSCOhost eBook Collection)
Shakespeare: A Life (PR2894.H65) print version, see NSU, John Vaughan Library, Main Collection
The Life of W. B. Yeats: A Critical Biography (for the eBook search by title in EBSCOhost eBook Collection)

Online reference sources:
Additional reference books that contain biographies are available online through several databases, such as Literature Resource Center or for information about children's authors try Something About the Author, or try the Biography and Genealogy Master Index (Ref. CT 214.B57).

The Salem Press Titles database offers selected literature by many authors, and the accompanying print versions are in the NSU library collections.

Literary criticisms:
General criticisms can be located in books or journal articles. For contemporary (active from 1960 to the present) poets, try Contemporary Literary Criticism (Ref. PN 771.C59). For poets writing between 1900-1960, use Twentieth-Century Literary Criticism (Ref. PN 771.G27). For full-length criticisms in books, do a subject search on the poet’s last name in Library Discovery.

For a quick overview to a poem or poetry criticisms/theory:
American and British Poetry v 1-2 (Ref. PS 303.A44)
The Comic Mode in English Literature: From the Middle Ages to Today (PR147.C65 R67) Literary history and criticism
Guide to American Poetry Explication: Colonial and Nineteenth-Century (Ref. PS 201.R66)
Guide to American Poetry Explication: Modern and Contemporary (Ref. PS 221.L46)
Guide to British Poetry v.1-4 (Ref. PR 311.M34)
Literary Criticism Index (Ref. PN 523.W44)
Magill's Bibliography of Literary Criticism (Ref. PN 523.M25) includes criticism on all types of literature.
Masterplots II:  Poetry Series (Ref. PN 1110.5.M37)
Literature Resource Center (online database source for biographies, criticisms, reviews)
The Resistance to Poetry (PS325 .L67) Poetry - History and criticism - theory
The Virtues of Poetry (PN1042.L665) Poetry - History and criticism - theory

Example author:
The Poems of Emily Dickinson:  An Annotated Guide to Commentary in English, 1978-1989 (Ref. PS 1541.D83)
Critical Insights: Sylvia Plath (PS3566.L27 Z915) Search for the eBook via Salem Press Titles
Critical Insights: The Poetry of Edgar Allen Poe (PS2642. P63 P64) Search for the eBook via Salem Press Titles
Critical Survey of Shakespeare's Sonnets (PR2848.A2 S35) Search for the eBook via Salem Press Titles
(See the "Articles and Databases" section below for an example listing of databases to use when searching for journal articles online)

Articles and Databases:

For remote access to search databases, you may be prompted for your NSU userID and password. From the NSU Libraries' home page underneath the Research section located on the left side of the page click on the link "Articles and Databases." This displays a listing of databases from general to those listed by subject field or discipline. Or try the Database A-Z, which lists them in alphabetical order. If uncertain about which database to use, begin by choosing a general database like Academic Search Premier or Ask a Librarian for assistance. Review some of the Library Tutorials listed at the beginning of this page for searching tips. For additional assistance after selecting a database, review the database Help screens for suggestions in using the database effectively. To locate only full-text articles, look for the full-text limiter and check the box. For articles that are not available in full-text format in our print collections or online through our databases, use the InterLibrary Loan service.

For descriptions of the EBSCO databases, see EBSCOhost. You may also select and search multiple EBSCO databases simultaneously. Journals may also contain biographical content and criticism articles. For biographical information, search by author's name (ex: Frost, Robert and biography); search by author's name and title of poem for articles. If the title is phrasal, such as "The Road Not Taken" by Robert Frost, place the title inside quotation marks. In the database search box, type: Frost and "The Road Not Taken" to locate information about this poem.

When using the database Literature Resource Center, choose the option Person-By or About and enter the poet's name and limit the content type to biographies. For the information about a particular work or title, choose the option Name of Work and enter the title of the poem.

Example databases include the following:
Academic Search Premier (general database, articles, books, and reviews)
EBSCOhost eBook Collection (ebooks)
Humanities Full Text (journals for humanities)
Literature Resource Center (biographical, reviews, criticisms)
MLA International Bibliography (indexes journal articles, book chapters, and dissertations in literature and languages)
OmniFile Full Text Mega (general database)
Salem Press Titles (selected literature)
Something About the Author SATA (biographical - young adult literature)
WorldCat (OCLC) - (materials available in libraries worldwide)

Book Titles not available at NSU Libraries:

If you are searching for a book in addition to those owned by NSU Libraries, search the database WorldCat (OCLC). For books NOT owned by NSU Libraries, you will need to submit a request through your InterLibrary Loan account (ILL) to have titles sent to one of the NSU Libraries (Tahlequah or Broken Arrow). See the ILL/FAQ page for additional information about our ILL as well as the Document Delivery service.


Modern American Poetry (
Poetry Everywhere (PBS)
Poetry Foundation ( (
The Poetry Society (
Poetry Society of America (PSA)
Representative Poetry Online (RPO)

MLA image  APA image

MLA (8th) Citation Style/ APA Citation Style:

The Publication Manual of the American Psychological Association (APA), 6th edition print version is located in the Reference section, call number BF 76.7.P83. Or search by title inLibrary Discovery for additional locations of these style manuals. For assistance with writing and how to cite sources, the John Vaughan Library offers personal assistance at the Citation Station (Spring and Fall semesters). Contact the Information Desk at 918-444-3235 for dates and times. Also, contact the Writing Center for writing and citation help.


Contact the Subject Librarian for Languages and Literature, Sophia (918-444-3267)
NSU-John Vaughan Library
College of Liberal Arts
Department of Languages and Literature

Page maintained by: Sophia
Last updated: June 14, 2019