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The Poetry Archive


The launch of the Poetry Archive

Last week saw the launch of the Poetry ArchiveOnline archive with recordings of over 130 living poets' voices, mostly from the UK; you can listen to excerpts on their wonderful site or go to to buy hour-long recordings on CD. a major initiative to record poets’ voices and to preserve their own readings of their work. The new website is at, where you can listen to the 80 poets who have so far been recorded by the Archive, now the world's premier online collection of recordings of poets reading their work.

Speaking about the project at a star-studded launch at the British Library, the Poet Laureate Andrew MotionEnglish poet, novelist and biographer; Poet Laureate of United Kingdom from 1999 to 2009; during his laureateship founded the Poetry Archive, an online resource of poems and audio recordings of poets reading their own work, co-director of the Poetry Archive, emphasised the importance of recording poets’ voices for posterity. Many great poets of the past have never been recorded and their voices are lost forever. Recordings of A E Housman, Thomas Hardy and D H Lawrence, for example, do not exist. A recording programme which began in 2000 has already proved how essential this initiative is, as Cornish poet Charles Causley was recorded some 12 months before he died in 2003 and the voice of New Zealand poet Allen Curnow was captured just before he passed away in 2001.

Seamus Heaney, who won the Nobel Prize for Literature in 1995, and Harold Pinter, who won it this year, are among poets taking part. Heaney, President of the Archive, spoke movingly at the launch about the importance of poets’ own readings.

The site also carries biographical information about the poets and a list of their work, making it a useful source of information on contemporary poets.


The new digital recordings of the poets reading their work have been produced by Richard Carrington, co-director of the Poetry Archive. Extracts can be listened to on the site and CDs of the the 60 minute recordings can be purchased exclusively from the Poetry Book SocietySpecialist book club founded by T S Eliot in 1953, which aims to offer the best new poetry published in the UK and Ireland. Members buy at 25% discount. The PBS has a handsome new website at, online from or by contacting the Society direct to order or ask for a stocklist:

Poetry Book Society
Fourth Floor
2 Tavistock Place
Telephone: +44 (0) 207 833 9247
Fax: +44 (0)207 833 5990