The Poetry Archive is a free, web-based library formed to hold recordings of English language poets reading their own work. The Poetry Archive is a not-for-profit registered charity.
The Poetry Archive was founded by recording producer Richard Carrington and poet Andrew Motion, during Motion's tenure as Poet Laureate of the United KIngdom, in 1999.Recordings of contemporary work began in 2000, and the site went live in 2005.
The archive was established as a web-based library to ensure that the oral record of modern poets is not lost, (as it has been with writers such as Thomas Hardy, D.H. Lawrence and A.E. Housman whose voices were never recorded, despite the technology being available at the time). The resource is built on the idea that poets have a unique relationship with their own work and are often able to communicate the nuance, musicality and subtlety of it, with a deeper understanding than actors. Texts to the poems and other resources are available but the poet's voice is the main concern of the site. Motion has stated "To hear the speed at which a poet reads, to hear their accent, to hear how they inflect their voice, to hear how they create a space around their words - or don't - all add to our using of what the meaning of poem might be." Contemporary studio recordings for the project began in 2000, shortly after Motion was appointed a Poet Laureate, and the site went live in 2005.
As of April 2013, the readings of over 260 poets are available on the site, with content searchable by title, author, theme, and form. Historic recordings available on the archive include Alfred Tennyson (recorded by Thomas Edison 1890), Robert Browning (1889), Rudyard Kipling (1921) W B Yeats (1932) and Langston Hughes (1955). Contemporary writers include Seamus Heaney, Billy Collins, Carol Ann Duffy and John Ashbery
Our first project of 2014 was to link those to those 200 poets from PPP. That meant going through each record one at a time, searching for its wiki equivalent, and adding the Archive link. At the same time, the PPP article would get a standard upgrade, of the kind we did last year on 19th century poets. Sometimes nothing had to be done; the article was already upgraded, and the Poetry Archive link already installed. At the other extreme, in some cases a PPP article had to be either imported from Wikipedia, or even created from scratch.
During the process, we thought of some other enhancements. Since this was mainly a record of currently living poets, a lot of them with video footage on YouTube, for example, we began adding YT links as well.
The project took not only January and February, but the bulk of March as well. And as soon as it was done, it was time for the next set of upgrades. Never a dull moment around here!