Professor Alan Filreis teaches a course at the University of Pennsylvania called "English 88: Modern & Contemporary Poetry." The class meets twice weekly at the Kelly Writers House on Penn's campus and is comprised of mainly Penn undergraduates. Like many college courses, English 88 has a website: However, unlike other course sites, this one receives more than 175,000 users every month.

How has a course website achieved such large traffic? One reason might be the decade Filreis has spent working on the site. Since 1994, Filreis, who is faculty director of the Kelly Writers House, has been sustaining and expanding his website, updating it at least once a week.

The main page indexes a wealth of information, including poems, translations, brief biographies, excerpts, articles, photographs, and interviews, as well as links to a wide range of supplementary information, including audio and video clips. The website allows access to an incredibly diverse poetic spectrum, from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to current debates and experimentations, including “cybernetic” poetics generated by computer software.

The organization of information may seem haphazard, in part because the structure depends so heavily on links that often become outdated due to the transitory nature of the Internet. This seeming casualness on Filreis’s part, however, is what separates the resource from so many others: it is the proximity of academic texts to informal posts that raises one’s experience of the site from merely exploratory to deeply informative.

There are always ambitions to expand the resource and its affiliates. "Soon PENNsound, a huge archive of digital sound recordings of individual poems by contemporary poets, will be available," Filreis said in an interview with, explaining the larger efforts planned to enrich the offerings on the site.