This fall, the Academy of American Poets marks the twentieth anniversary of its website, Poets.org. The organization launched the site in September of 1996, less than one year after the term “internet” was defined, becoming the first poetry organization to bring poems, poets’ biographies, and resources for K-12 teachers online.
With the introduction of the site, the Academy of American Poets became the leading champion of poems—text-based, compact, and highly shareable—as the perfect art form for the digital age, which the organization continues to promote today. Each year, users visit tens of millions of pages on Poets.org, and a vast number of visitors are reading poems.
“We can say with certainty that you should never doubt that people hunger for poems or wonder whether poetry matters,” says Jennifer Benka, executive director. “And, more than ever, when we face moments of crisis, thousands of people swarm Poets.org seeking poems that offer language to help translate challenging circumstances, give comfort, express frustration, and spark hope.”
Now one of the top sites for poetry in the world, Poets.org continues to offer reliable, trustworthy, and unique poetry resources, including a suite of activities intended to assist K-12 teachers of all disciplines in incorporating poetry into their lessons. And, the poems on Poets.org appear with the permission of poets, which is not always the case on other poetry websites.
The Academy of American Poets also pays special attention to how poetry is presented digitally. In fact, when the organization relaunched Poets.org in 2014, it worked with designers to restore the classic literary font Electra, for the poems on the site, to reinforce the importance of the poem as art object.
As the Academy of American Poets looks ahead, the organization will continue to make poems available to the widest public possible, curate content with a focus on quality over quantity, and help smaller organizations reach a larger audience. Because Poets.org is made possible by members, donors, and partners, and not an endowment, the organization will also assist individuals seeking to connect with poetry events in their communities and in more ways online.
About the Academy of American Poets
The Academy of American Poets is the largest membership-based nonprofit organization fostering an appreciation for contemporary poetry and supporting American poets. The organization produces Poets.org, the world’s largest publicly funded website for poets and poetry; National Poetry Month; the popular Poem-a-Day series; American Poets magazine; Teach This Poem and other resources for K-12 educators; and an annual series of poetry readings and special events.
The Academy of American Poets is part of a national poetry coalition working together to promote the value poets bring to our culture and the important contribution poetry makes in the lives of people of all ages and backgrounds.