QUESTIONS AND ANSWERS ABOUT REPRESENTATIVE POETRY ON-LINE
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RPO version 2.08 holds the contents of the University of Toronto Press RP editions of 1912, 1916, 1935-46, and 1962-67, and many other poets. See the
"What's New" file for additions made since 1994.
- How does Representative Poetry On-line differ from other Web sites for poetry?
- This anthology gives you individual poems in English
that critics, teachers, students, and general readers have thought
unusually good. Normally, you will not find complete
books by a poet here. The editors of this collection,
which have included Marshall McLuhan and Northrop Frye,
are selective. They also give bibliographic sources for all
poems; and all new texts are given unnormalized, transcribed
as in their originals. Version 3.0 has over 2,900 poems by
more than 400 poets and so is larger than most printed anthologies.
- Why do you use the title Representative
- The title comes from a teaching anthology first published by
Professor W. J. Alexander at University College in the University
of Toronto in 1912 and issued thereafter for teaching purposes
at the University of Toronto Press until 1967.
- How does a poem get included in
Representative Poetry On-line?
- Originally this anthology included British and
Canadian poems that their editors judged to be
unusually good. These poems represented
many kinds of fine writing in English verse.
There was no intention of representing poets by nationality, race,
gender, religion, or period. Representative Poetry On-line
still lacks English-language poetry outside Canada, the United
Kingdom, and the United States. Until Version 2.0,
women poets were almost absent. As time goes by, the editor
will extend the anthology so as to make it representative
of the work of many different kinds of poets.
- Why doesn't Representative Poetry
On-line have poems by W. B. Yeats and other great modern
- They are still in the author's copyright. All works by
US authors are copyrighted for 75 years after the date of
first publication. However, Public Law 105-298, enacted
October 27, 1998,
further extended the renewal term of
copyrights still subsisting on that date by an additional
20 years, providing for a renewal term of 67 years and a total
term of protection of 95 years" (my emphasis).
All works by British authors are copyrighted for 50 years
(plus the war years) after the death of the author but recent
changes in the copyright law of Great Britain (Jan. 1996)
restore copyright to the estate of an author whose death
occurred roughly between 1926 and 1946 and whose works fell
out of copyright under the previous legislation (50 years
after the death of the author). British and Eire copyright
holds for 70 years after the author's death. W. B. Yeats died in 1939 and thus
his works are protected by copyright until 2009. All works by
Canadian authors are held to be in copyright
for 50 years after the date of the author's death.
Works that do not fall under copyright may be regarded
as being in the public domain.
- How do I find a poem when I
only know the title or a first or last line?
- If you do not find the poem listed in the title or first-line
indexes of Representative Poetry On-line, consult
The Columbia Granger's Index to Poetry, 10th edition,
edited by Edith P. Hazen (New York: Columbia University
Press, 1994). Most public and educational libraries should have
this excellent reference book. It indexes 79,000 poems
by 11,000 authors in 400
anthologies and offers title, first-line, last-line, author and subject
indexes. This book is also available on CD-ROM. Try
1901 edition of John Bartlett's Familiar Quotations,
found in the Bartleby Project at Columbia University.If you belong to an institution that subscribes to ProQuest's Literature Online, search its huge database.
- Can Representative Poetry
On-line be used for teaching poetry, and how?
- Course descriptions for literature courses often include lists of texts
and a schedule of times when they will be discussed in class. If
published as a Web page, a course description can have links to
texts of poems. Although paper anthologies
are often more convenient for students to read and annotate
than electronic ones, a resource like Representative Poetry
On-line can supplement textbooks by providing free,
easily-available copies of texts not included in it. Because this
and other on-line anthologies can be summoned up at a student's personal
computer, they can be used at the same time that the student is
writing an essay. Other uses will occur to teachers and
- Can I publish poems from
Representative Poetry On-line
in a school, college, or university Web site serving literature
- Yes, as long as your use is not commercial. You may extract
the poem texts themselves -- without the editorial frame, the notes,
etc. -- and use these without any copyright restriction. RPO asserts
no copyright claim for the poetry itself.
- Where are good places to find
other poetry on the Web?
- Poetry is everywhere on the Web. See the RPO Bibliography for links
to helpful sites.
- Is there a master database
of all major poetry so that I can find
a poem for which I only know one phrase?
- ProQuest's commercial product, LION ("Literature
Online"), is highly recommended.
- How do I find out how much
one of my old books of poetry is worth?
- Search for your work at the
American Book Exchange site
ABEBooks. You will find out here how much it costs to buy your book now.
The mega-site for this interest appears to be
- Where can I find
on-line criticism about English poetry?
- RPO 3.0 offers both criticism by major poets in the
past and critical commentaries by Ian Lancashire on selected poems.
For recent literary studies, see peer-reviewed
scholarly journals and other resources now on-line.
- How do I find poems in
Representative Poetry On-line
that are about a theme?
- The best way is to use the keyword or concordance search.
- Where do I publish my own
- Consult 1999 Poet's Market: 1,800 Places to Publish your Poetry, edited by Chantelle
Bentley (Cincinnati, Ohio: Writer's Digest Book, 1998).
As important, consider attending poetry readings in your town or city.
Get to know others who, like you, write poems and go out of your way to
listen to them reading. Then offer to read your own work. You may
well reach more hearts and minds in person than you would in
the pages of a journal or book.
- Be cautious about commercial invitations to contribute poems to
literary contests. You will be paying out money to see your
poems in print, and the volumes in which you publish may not be as
respected as you would like. See "Literary Contest Caution" by
Charlie Hughes of Wind Publications.
- Can I use poems and prose
from Representative Poetry On-line
as the basis for my own edition of poetry?
- Commercial use of these materials is not allowed. If you wish to
make your own anthology available for educational purposes,
or to serve the love of poetry, you will invest a lot of yourself
in the selection of the texts and in the way they are presented. For this
reason you will want all aspects of the collection to reflect your
editorial mind. The best way to accomplish this is to go back to the original
editions yourself and re-edit the poems. Treating the electronic texts
of Representative Poetry On-line as anything more than
preliminary copy will defeat this end.
- What is copyright in
Representative Poetry On-line?
- By placing this collection on-line, everyone involved has
agreed to let everyone make copies. As far as we know,
the poems and prose works here -- with the exception of
poems by Marge Piercy and Mark Doty -- are out of the
author's intellectual copyright: they are in the
public domain. Only the editorial and critical work and the
compilation of the indexes and other supplementary files
have a tradition of legal copyright. If you re-use editorial
work in this collection, you should credit the genuine efforts of
all who have contributed to it.
- Why do poems in Representative
Poetry On-line include line numbers?
- They ensure that missing lines can be identified; they allow us to attach
end-of-file notes to points in the poems; and they enable everyone to
refer to particular passages, especially in long poems.
- How did you get permission
to place Representative Poetry On-line on-line?
- The editor wrote a letter to the University of Toronto Press
and asked permission of its rights officer. Because the editor was a
member of the Department of English at the University of Toronto,
and the last complete edition of Representative Poetry in the 1960s
was "Prepared by members of the Department of English at the
University of Toronto," permission was granted.
- Will you reply to my questions
if I send you a note by e-mail?
- I try to answer all inquiries but cannot undertake research for
you. We also cannot assist students whom teachers have assigned to
- Why are you doing this all without charging?
- Three reasons. First, it costs nothing to let readers have copies
of these poems -- no paper, no printing charge, no distribution and sales.
Second, most of this poetry is in the public domain; being out of copyright,
no further royalties need go to the author or the author's
estate. Last, the University of Toronto Press and the Department of
English have not sold copies of Representative Poetry for
over 30 years, and the editor of Representative Poetry On-line
volunteers his time.
Comments and corrections are welcome.