Poet Selection

The Poetry Archive aims to bring the widest possible audience to the fullest possible range of English-language poetry being published around the world, and to complement that poetry with educational material of value both to the specialist and to the general reader. It has no editorial agenda except to demonstrate the range and richness of poetry in all its forms.

The Archive will never be complete. We plan to go on adding more and more recordings as time passes and most importantly, as funds permit. There are very many English-language poets we want to add to the site; because the Poetry Archive is a charity with limited means, this process of growth has to be structured.

It costs us £2,500 to add a new poet to the Archive. This includes the costs of hiring a studio, a producer, a sound engineer, the money we pay the poet, the money we have to pay for the copyright permissions as well as the administrative costs of the whole process from inviting the poet to read up to adding those recordings to the website.

Poets are chosen for inclusion by a panel under the Chairmanship of Andrew Motion, one of the founders of the Archive. The selection process is guided by advice from a large number of writers and critics, many of whom have specialist knowledge of particular regions or styles, and the panel's choices are determined by several factors: by the wish to demonstrate the variety of poetry being published, by the wish to make a selection which demonstrates the excellence of every kind of that variety, and by the availability of the necessary funding.

The panel is always looking for reasons to include people and never for reasons to exclude anyone. At any given moment there is a long list of poets we want to be able to add to the Archive. We always welcome recommendations from visitors to the site about the poets we should add.

It is important to emphasize that we do not consider poets who are already in the Archive to be better poets than any who are not there yet. Funding sometimes dictates which poets we can add to the collection, and the need to acquire copyright permissions sometimes slows down the process of adding recordings which are high on our wish list. 

The Poetry Archive is grateful for the generous donations it has received from statutory bodies, from charitable trusts and foundations and from philanthropic individuals, and looks forward to further donations, which will enable us to expand our collection of recordings.



Find out more about The Poetry Archive:

About Us


Meet the Team





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

Amoretti LV: so oft as I...

Edmund Spenser

read by Daljit Nagra

The Mock Turtle's...

Lewis Carroll

read by Kei Miller

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.