About us

What is The Poetry Archive?

The Poetry Archive is a not-for-profit organisation that produces, acquires and preserves recordings of poets from around the English-speaking world and makes substantial excerpts from them freely available online. Our Children’s Poetry Archive is dedicated to poetry written for children and presented in a website which is easy and fun to use.

We are funded by Arts Council, England, as well as a number of charitable trusts and foundations, philanthropic individuals and generous supporters.


Why are we needed?

When a poet dies without making a recording, a precious resource is lost for ever and as time goes by that loss is felt more and more keenly. By recording poets reading their own work, The Poetry Archive preserves for future generations uniquely valuable voices which might otherwise be lost. The Poetry Archive protects and preserves an important part of our social history.

Insight, understanding, enjoyment
Hearing a poet reading his or her work remains uniquely illuminating. It helps us to understand the work as well as helping us to enjoy it. Writers have a particular right to their own work and we are taken to a deeper level of understanding by hearing how they speak it. This is a powerful source of insight, understanding and enjoyment to all lovers of literature and a valuable resource for students of any age

Accessible and available to all
We have a fundamental belief that poetry should be accessible to everyone. The website currently features over 3,000 poems you can listen to without charge, with examples of the best of every kind of English-language poetry. New recordings are added all the time. Every year we are proud to make our collection freely available to over 2.5 million visitors from all over the world.

Supporting poets
While we want poetry to remain freely accessible for as wide an audience as possible, we also believe that writers should be fairly compensated for their work. We pay each poet to record for us and, when copyright permissions allow, we promote their full recordings for sale via our download store (and previously via CDs) giving two thirds of the returns directly back to poets as royalties. 


What we do

When funding makes it possible, we invite poets into a recording studio to record around an hour of poetry. We make an excerpt from each recording freely available on the website with the rest available via our download store. Through partnerships with other organisations, the Archive is also able to include other recordings of poets who we haven't recorded ourselves.

For information on how a poet is selected to feature in the Archive, please visit our Poet Selection page.

We have also created The Children’s Poetry Archive, a website dedicated to showcasing the best of children’s poetry. This website will become as valuable and varied for children as the main Archive is for adult poetry.

In 2013, we co-founded Poetry By Heart, a national competition funded by the Department for Education, designed to encourage 14-18-year-old students at school and college in England to enjoy learning and reciting poetry.  


Find out More About the Archive


Find out more about The Poetry Archive:


Meet the Team





Enjoy new recordings of classic poems from the past read by contemporary poets

The Second Coming

William Butler Yeats

read by Maurice Riordan

The Rime of the Ancient...

Samuel Taylor Coleridge

read by Kit Wright

The Poetry Archive’s vision is to acquire and make recordings of contemporary English-language poets reading their own work, collect and preserve recordings of great poets from the past, and make extracts from all these recordings available free of charge.