History

Poetry: A Magazine of Verse

In 1910-11, the established Chicago poet Harriet Monroe made a trip to China to visit her sister, the wife of the American ambassador, and there undertook an intensive study of Chinese art. Upon her return to the U.S., Monroe founded Poetry: A Magazine of Verse, through which vehicle she introduced the Imagists and other "new poetry" to American readers.

Harriet Monroe Poet, publisher 1860-1936

Harriet Monroe founded Poetry: A Magazine of Verse in 1912 with the hope of fostering wide public interest in poetry and increasing compensation rates for published verse. Despite a constant struggle to sustain the magazine, Monroe successfully promoted a lively forum for innovative poetry and new poetic movements. As the 20th Century drew to a close, the magazine remained a vital source of poetic innovation and energy.

Born in Chicago in 1860, Monroe graduated from the academy of Visitation Convent in Washington, D.C., in 1879. In 1892, her long patriotic piece, "Columbian Ode," was performed by a chorus of thousands at a dedication ceremony for the World's Columbian Exposition. In succeeding decades, she published several volumes of poetry and worked as an arts critic for various Chicago papers.

Monroe's legacy lies less in her own writing than in her role as editor and publisher. Though Monroe was a lifelong Chicagoan, her travels and range of contacts brought a cosmopolitan modernism to Poetry, one of several important small-circulation magazines that generated intellectual and cultural ferment in the period before World War I. The magazine was headquartered at 543 Cass St. (now Wabash Avenue).