The Poetry Archive

An exceptional use of the internet.

The Poetry Archive gives internet users access to poems read by the poets that wrote them. Set up in 1999 by the former Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and the record producer Richard Carrington, the Poetry Archive restores the centrality of the oral nature of poetry, allowing access to the poet's own meanings. 


A good place to start is the video introduction by Andrew Motion, which offers a way into the archive. And then just jump in. The search facility is excellent. You can seek out poems by poet's last name, as well as title, theme and form. 

There is a superb glossary of poetic terms, a Children's Archive, guided tours of the site from the likes of Monica Ali, Clive James and Rowan Williams, excellent accompanying biographical and critical texts and a very helpful section suggesting ways teachers could make best use of the site in class. There is also a section for students, excellent links to a wide variety of poetry related sites and interviews with a number of poets.


Most of the recordings on the site are new, specially made for the Poetry Archive, others are taken from commercial recordings. And what recordings they are! We've just listened to Simon Armitage reading You're Beautiful, Wendy Cope reading On a Train and Spike Milligan reading The Land of the Bumbly Boo. You can also hear Auden, Sylvia Plath and Yeats. Our day is immeasurably better. 

This beautifully designed site is a not-for-profit enterprise which relies on donations to do its work. And what work it is. This is an exceptional use of the internet. The Poetry Archive is not about money or celebrity, it is quiet and of itself. There is much to discover here.

29 November 2010