St Andrews serves up world-beating poetry website

Wednesday 6 October 2004

The English-speaking world’s most authoritative poetry website is launched today (National Poetry Day, Thursday 7 October).

The website – – was developed by poetry experts at the University of St Andrews and other leading international institutions from Sussex to Hong Kong. It offers anyone with an interest in verse a guide to poetry in English across all historical periods and throughout the many different regions of the English-speaking world. Unmatched by any other site on the web, it includes contributions from leading British poets including Don Paterson and John Burnside as well as material from poetry experts around the globe.

The site launch was marked by a cake-cutting ceremony to coincide with the theme of this year’s National Poetry Day – food.

Visitors to are invited to enter and explore its many rooms. Some rooms are devoted to the poetry of a particular era such as Renaissance Poetry, Romantic Poetry and Victorian Poetry. Other rooms correspond to geographical areas – visitors can take a literary trip, for example, into the realms of African Poetry, Asian Poetry, or Australian Poetry.

Each room in the virtual poetry house is hosted by a specialist in the field and offers a short introduction to the subject and a list of recommended links to other sites and materials.

The new poetry website also boasts a changing magazine content of articles discussing particular contemporary figures and works. There is a ‘Featured Poet’ and ‘Featured Book’ section, and new volumes will be reviewed and discussed as they appear. Visitors to the site can also find listings of poetry readings, lectures and workshops that take place in St Andrews through the year, and details of how to become involved in studying poetry at university level.

Professor Robert Crawford, poet and Head of the University of St Andrews School of English, thought up the idea.

He said, “This isn’t the only site on the web devoted to poetry but it aims to be uniquely authoritative and reliable in the information it provides, because it is drawing on the collective acumen of experts in the field. Its historical and geographical scope is more comprehensive than the material available elsewhere on the Web. Above all, I hope the site will be welcoming, helpful, and stimulating for everyone around the world who takes an interest in poetry and that it will reinforce St Andrews’ position on the worldwide map as a centre of excellence for the art form”.

In 2002, the University of St Andrews, which supports contemporary poets to the tune of over £150,000 a year, designated one of its seafront buildings The Poetry House. The Poetry House, thought to be the largest building in Britain, excluding libraries, devoted to writing and reading poetry, plays host to research, teaching, and poetry readings and workshops throughout the academic year. The online poetry house, will act as a virtual extension of the actual Poetry House, opening its doors to those interested in poetry 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

“St Andrews is rapidly becoming known as a Poetry Town¿, said Professor Crawford. “The Poetry House works in partnership with the StAnza festival, Scotland’s largest poetry festival, run by local people in Fife, and with the Public Library, to offer a wonderful programme of poetry- related activities that now spans the calendar. Our world-class website makes our expertise, our latest reviews, and up-to-the- minute events available to a global audience: it’s the icing on the cake”.


NOTE TO EDITORS – J-peg photographs of poets John Burnside, Robert Crawford and Kathleen Jamie, along with leading poetry experts and young poets cutting the huge Poetry House Cake in St Andrews, available from Steve Lindridge, Ideal Images – phone 01383 720697 or fax 01383 720753 or mobile 07718 919597 or [email protected].

Issued by Beattie Media On behalf of the University of St Andrews For more information, please contact Claire Grainger, Press Officer – 01334 462530, 07730 415 015 or [email protected]; Ref: press releases/poetryday2004 View the latest University news at

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