What is the Poetry Archive?

The Poetry Archive is a not-for-profit organisation that produces, acquires and preserves recordings of poets reading their own work out loud. We make substantial excerpts from our recording sessions freely available online through this website and our dedicated Children's Poetry Archive.

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 a National Portfolio Organisation. We also receive support from our Members, Donors and a number of charitable trusts and foundations, philanthropic individuals and generous supporters. We thank the T S Eliot Foundation for their support for the Children's Poetry Archive.

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's collections bring poetry into homes and classrooms and offers a valuable educational resource as well as protecting and preserving an important part of our social and cultural 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 2,000 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 upload our poetry online to be 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 through our Membership Scheme which allows us to pay poets when our Members select their poems. We give two thirds of the cost of each poem directly back to poets as royalties.

A little about us


total poems currently in the Archive


the Poetry Archive was launched


visits to the Poetry Archive every year

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What we do

When funding makes it possible we invite poets into a recording studio to record them reading their own poems. We agree with the copyright holders that we can make a selection of these poems freely available on our websites for everyone to listen to. We work in partnership with other organisations to offer our resources to educators and the public through a huge range of projects and activities. Best of all, we offer our collections free for everyone to listen to anywhere and any time they can get online. The Archive also includes other recordings of poets who we haven't recorded ourselves.

The Children's Poetry Archive

We have also created The Children’s Poetry Archive, a website dedicated to showcasing the best of children’s poetry. This website has been designed with the younger use in mind. It is a place where they can explore poetry in their own time and at their own pace, engendering a love for poetry which will last them a lifetime. We are grateful to the TS Eliot Foundation for their support in creating this site.

Find out more about the Archive