Here are some questions you may want to ask us. If your question isn’t here, please contact us and we will do our best to respond and we can update our FAQ's. Please choose from the following categories:
Poets and recordings
Unfortunately, we are a small organisation and so don't have the capacity to offer an advisory service for your poetry. However, there are other places where you can get great advice. For more information abou other poetry related organisations visit our Useful Links page.
Poets themselves choose the work they record for the Archive. Each poet is invited to record a reading lasting 30 minutes to an hour. We are able to make up to ten minutes of each recording free to listen to from this website. You can access the whole set of recordings we make by becoming a Member of the Archive – this helps us to make more recordings and to pay the poets a royalty for their work.
We are keen to hear your suggestions about who else we might record and need your help to ensure the Archive is as comprehensive as possible. We ask our Members to vote on recordings to be made through the year, but if you would like to suggest a poet to be added to the Archive, please get in touch. We read all suggestions but as a small organisation we regret we cannot always make individual replies.
All published poets who write in English are eligible to be invited to make a recording for the Archive and we are always adding new names to the list of poets we would love to record. We raise funds into our Recording Programme through our Membership Scheme and other fundraising activities. When funding becomes available we collect a panel of experts in the field to discuss and prioritise the recordings we want to make in each six month period. Once our Advisors have reached consensus, we invite poets in. We sometimes receive funding to make specific recordings (for example our T S Eliot Prize-winner’s collection, or our Poets of Scotland Collection) which means that criteria for the poets we select is already defined. Our Director will involve a minimum of three of our Advisors in every decision.
The first ever recording made for the Archive's website was a reading by the much-loved English poet, U.A. Fanthorpe. It was recorded on 16 May 2000 with Dr Rosie Bailey at their home in Gloucestershire, England and was produced by Richard Carrington.
Poetry was an oral art form before it became textual. Homer's work lived through the spoken word long before any markings were made on a page. What would we not give to be able to hear Keats and Byron reading their work? And, if recording had been possible in the early nineteenth century, how inexplicable it would seem now if no-one had recorded their voices. Yet in the twentieth century, when recording technology became universal, there was no systematic attempt to record all significant poets for posterity and even some major poets died without having been recorded at all (as far as we know Thomas Hardy and A. E. Housman died without having been recorded at all – if you have a recording of either, please get in touch!) The Poetry Archive was, therefore, created to make sure that such omissions never happen again and that everyone has a chance to hear major poets reading their work.
The Poetry Archive does not control any literary copyrights but we are able to give our permissions for the use of the recordings we have made, for use as part of a radio programme, for example. In order to use any of our recordings you will need to have secured the appropriate literary permission from the rights holders, whose details appear on pages in the Poetry Archive which contain poem texts. Recordings which were not made by the Poetry Archive are owned by others, whose permission will be needed before you can re-use those recordings in another context. Please submit a request through our contact form. The Poetry Archive charges a fee for permissions we are able to grant.
The Poetry Archive believes that poets should be fairly compensated for their work and we pay royalties to the appropriate rights owner for every poem downloaded from our Catalogue. Each downloaded poem is valued at .89p and of that income we then pay out 67% as a royalty to the rights owner. We have therefore valued 1 x credit at .89p and this price is a fixed value per poem to enable us to continue to support our poets’ professional writing careers.
As part of our Explore or Collector Memberships you can leave a special message on any poem in the Archive. Your dedication will have your name and a special message added to that poem and be visible for as long as your membership is active or when you choose to remove it.
Here's how you make a dedication on a special poem:
- Join our membership plan as an Explorer Member or any level above.
- Explore the archive for a poem that means something special to you.
- Use the step by step guide here to learn how to submit your dedication to our team to approve.
- Once approved, your dedication will appear on the poem for everyone to see.
Poetry Archive organisation and funding
The Poetry Archive is a national and international collection and our Archive is held in digital formats and shared through our websites. We have an administrative office in Exeter, England which is not open to the public and our physical archive (early formats of our recordings, documents and materials) are stored in Exeter too. You can contact our staff via this website during office hours: Monday to Friday 9am to 5pm.
The Poetry Archive is a registered charity guided by a Board of Trustees. It is run by a very small team led by our Director: Tracey Guiry and Administrator; Maggie Sullivan. The website is supported by our Digital Manager Nicola Wheldrake. We have support from a fantastic team of experts including Rights negotiation (Connie Roberts) and Finance (Fiona Meadley). Our Chair is Robert Seatter and our President is Sir Daniel Day Lewis. Our Founders, Sir Andrew Motion and the Record Producer Richard Carrington continue to support the new team. If you would like to get in touch with any of our team, please contact us and your enquiry will be passed on to the relevant person. Our board of trustees has overall legal responsibility for the charity. Trustees work in a voluntary capacity, meeting for a full board meeting four times a year, with sub-committees meeting more frequently when necessary. For more information, please visit our About page.
Finding poems and poets
We can't guarantee that the poem you're looking for is in the Archive but it might be – so try our themed search. Go to the Explore page and click on Themes and look for a theme that fits the poem you're trying to remember – or try inputting a line into our search bar.
Many people turn to poetry at important moments in their lives. A poem can be a solace in times of grief and can help you celebrate happy events. From the Explore page you can search the themes or titles which resonate with you the most and you can choose the poem which comes closest to expressing your celebration, sorrow, or how you feel. If you would like to place a dedication which all of our web visitors can enjoy you can become a Member and follow the instructions.
We believe poets should be supported to make a living from their craft. Our Membership includes credits for you to download poems from our Catalogue (10 credits as an Explorer Member and 25 credits as a Collector Member). By agreement with our poets, rights holders and publishers each poem is valued at .89p and each album of poetry at £8.90. We pay a royalty fee of 67% of all net income and this goes to the rights holders of the poems you have chosen to download as part of your Membership. This royalty amount is accrued by us at the time you make your download and the total for each year is paid on to the rights holders on an annual basis. We are unable to transfer any benefits not used within 12 months and any outstanding credits will be assumed to be a donation to the work of the Poetry Archive which will be reinvested directly into our recording programme to bring more poets and poems into the Archive.
Your Membership includes free credits for you to download poems from our Catalogue (10 credits as an Explorer Member and 25 credits as a Collector Member). We are unable to transfer any benefits not used within 12 months and any outstanding credits will be assumed to be a donation to the work of the Poetry Archive which will be reinvested directly into our recording programme to bring more poets and poems into the Archive. For more information on how your Membership fee supports poets through royalty payments please see Q: How do Poets benefit from my Membership?
The Membership period at all levels is 12 months from the date you subscribe. You can choose to pay by a single payment or through a recurring direct debit. We will always remind you when your membership is due for renewal so you can choose how you would like to continue. All the paid Membership benefits for each year must be taken during the 12 month period following. A full set of new benefits will begin when another year's Membership is renewed. We are unable to transfer any benefits not used within 12 months and any outstanding credits not used during a Membership period will default to a donation to the work of the Poetry Archive which will be reinvested directly into our recording programme to bring more poets and poems into the Archive.
Once you become a member, MyArchive allows you to:
- Save lists of your favourite poems and poets from the Poetry Archive
- Share these with friends, family, colleagues or students who have a My Archive account which they can sign up for, for free
- Manage and edit your lists – create one for every mood or for a special occasion
- As you explore the Poetry Archive, you’ll find poems and poets that you especially like. To make saving and sharing your favourites easier, you can create your own list and save it in MyArchive. Just click the ‘Add to MyArchive’ button you’ll find next to each poet or poem.
Lists can be used in many ways – to remind you about poems you’ve enjoyed on previous visits to the Archive, to build a personal anthology or to share your favourite poems with friends. Teachers can also use these lists to compile classroom lesson plans.
When you join as a Member at any level you will receive your own MyArchive account. Here you can collect your favourite poems together so you'll know where to find them. You can also listen back to your whole collection. To start collecting into your own MyArchive account simply click on the + symbol next to the poem you are playing. You will be asked to set up a 'collection' to store this poem in so follow the steps to do that and give your collection a name. Each time you want to add another poem, simply click the + symbol and add the poem to your collections. You can always see what you have by looking at your MyArchive account page.
All the information you need to access your downloads is contained on an email you will automatically receive upon purchase. If you are already signed in then you will be able to access your downloads straight away on the site. If not, you will need to login using the password set up for you automatically which is stated in your email purchase receipt. Then you will need to log in to access your downloads:
If you are having trouble logging into the website, try using the start of your email adress as the username, without the @... part along with your usual password and this might resolve the issue. Alternatively if you know your username but you do not know the password to your account, you can reset it here.
For any questions relating to the download store please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org - this email address is checked during week days and we endeavour to reply to people as soon as possible.
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Yes, our sites are fully optimised for mobile and tablet use so your experience of our content will be the highest quality across all devices.
As the recipient of public funds, the Poetry Archive is committed to the accessibility of all its material to all citizens, regardless of disability. All the metadata on this site complies with the Web Accessibility Initiative (WAI) Web Content Accessibility Guidelines (WCAG) Version 1.0 at compliance level A but we will raise this to AA in the course of our next upgrade. All the archive material is presented in audio, supported by textual extracts which, to protect our publishers' copyright, are published in Macromedia Flash format. To accommodate those with low vision, the extracts are presented in print sizes from 8-16 point. The Poetry Archive will regularly review and upgrade this site to include more and better accessibility features and we welcome all comments from users.
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