Hidden with the Southbank Centre (Europe’s largest centre for the arts) is the Saison Poetry Library.  One of the three buildings comprising the centre is the Royal Festival Hall and up on its 5th floor is this wonderful place.  This gem offers the visitor wonderful views over the Thames and London which can be enjoyed while having access to the most comprehensive and accessible British collection of poetry (1912 - now).   In addition to printed materials, the library has recordings of poets reciting their own works that can be heard in listening booths.  This opportunity to hear poetry direct from the poet affords the visitor a unique experience and is a great way to get exposure to poetry for those who are not that familiar with this craft.  The librarians can help choose works if you aren’t sure what to try.

Founded in 1953, the library’s poetry collection (100,000+ items) is available in many formats - books, pamphlets, audio cassette, CD, video and DVD - all for onsite reference or loan.  While there is an emphasis on UK published works, foreign works with translations are also collected.  In addition there is plenty of related ephemera for onsite reference.  There is also a children’s section.

Special events are held throughout the year, with poetry readings, appreciation courses and other related activities.  There are also changing exhibitions to enhance the appreciation of poets and poetry - many of which include photographic and video displays.  See their website for more details: www.poetrylibrary.org.uk

The Poetry library is open to everyone to visit and enjoy.  For those wishing to use the lending services, membership is free.  Open Tuesday - Sunday 11am - 8pm.

Located at: Level 5, Royal Festival Hall, (just north of the London Eye), SE1 8XX

Nearest Tube: Waterloo