The Poetry Archive

Conceived by the U.K. Poet Laureate Andrew Motion and the recording producer Richard Carrington, the Poetry Archive offers recordings by approximately 130 English-language poets (thirty-four of whom are from outside the U.K.). This “free and growing collection of new recordings by contemporary poets and historic recordings of English-language poets from the past” was designed to be in keeping with Basil Bunting's belief that “poetry, like music, is to be heard.”

As Carrington explains: “Homer’s work, for example, lived through spoken word long before being recorded to the page. Hearing a poet read his or her work remains uniquely illuminating. It helps us to better understand and enjoy the work. When a poet dies without making a recording, a precious resource is lost forever, and as time goes by that loss is felt more and more keenly.”

The Archive’s audio recordings are searchable by title, author, theme, and form. Each poem is accompanied by a brief author bio and interpretative information for the selected poems. Two particularly noteworthy features of the website include guided tours by well-known poetry lovers and interactive filmed interviews with selected poets. The Archive also publishes sixty-minute CDs of each new recording.

Teachers will find various resources to augment the listening experience for their students with lesson plans, tips for listening, and some helpful suggestions for inviting a poet to give a reading. The Poetry Archive also features a Children’s Poetry Archive with recordings by selected writers such as Allan Ahlberg, James Berry, Valerie Bloom, Roald Dahl, Wes Magee, Spike Milligan, Brian Moses, Judith Nicholls, Brian Patten and Michael Rosen.


see more photographs and ephemera from the archive