Papers relating to the Manchester Poetry Centre

Scope and Content

The Poetry Centre files contain correspondence, cuttings, publicity material, minutes and other papers, relating to: the establishment of the Poetry Centre; readings given there; publicity; finances and funding of the centre, including grants from various arts organizations; and the move of Michael Schmidt and Carcanet Press to Manchester. There is a small amount of correspondence with poets relating to their readings at the centre; those represented include: Dick Davis; Roy Fuller; X.J. Kennedy; Alasdair Maclean; Wes Magee; Edwin Morgan; Pete Morgan; Paul Muldoon; William Peskett; and Richard Ryan.

Administrative / Biographical History

Brian Cox founded the Poetry Centre at Manchester University in 1971, with the help of a grant from the Arts Council. He had initially hoped that the Centre would have a designated home of its own in new buildings, but a lack of money meant that he had to administer the Centre from his base in the English Department, and most of the poetry readings took place in the University Theatre. The inaugural reading was given by W.H. Auden on 11 October 1971, and in subsequent years well-attended readings were given by poets such as Philip Larkin, Ted Hughes, Peter Porter, John Wain, John Betjeman, and R.S. Thomas.

In 1972 the Poetry Centre received a grant from the Calouste Gulbenkian Foundation, Lisbon, which enabled Michael Schmidt to be appointed as a half-time Special Lecturer in Poetry at the University. He came to Manchester from Oxford, bringing his Carcanet Press operation with him. At this time Carcanet was a very small enterprise and was suffering severe financial difficulties; the financial support arranged by Cox helped to keep the press afloat. Part of Schmidt's new role was to promote the writing of poetry in Manchester and the surrounding area, and he was also involved in Poetry Centre activities. The Centre played a role in various literary festivals and other activities in the city.


The Poetry Centre files were all stored together by Brian Cox in the same drawer of a filing cabinet. They are arranged here in their original order.