Australian Poetry Library opens its digital doors

27 May 2011

The Australian Poetry Library is a joint initiative of the University of Sydney and the Copyright Agency Limited (CAL), and was launched launched at Government House by Her Excellency Professor Marie Bashir, Governor of NSW and Chancellor of the University.

The online library holds more than 42,000 poems by 217 Australian poets. Elizabeth Webby, Professor Emerita of Australian Literature at the university and chief investigator of the Australian Research Council grant that helped fund the site said "The idea for the site came from the poet Dr John Tranter, an honorary associate at the University."

"It provides a wonderful opportunity for Australians to discover the richness of Australian poetry from some of the first poems created here by Charles Harpur and others, to those by contemporary poets such as Judith Beveridge and Les Murray," Professor Webby said.

The poems on the site are fully searchable by poet, theme and form. You can, for example, search for an animal poem, a bush poem, a poem for kids, a friendship poem, a funny poem, a war poem or a school poem. If you feel like a ballad, a haiku, a parody, a sonnet or just a poem that rhymes you can find all those categories and more.

The site includes numerous books by Australian poets, including verse novels and the first volume of poetry ever published in Australia, Judge Barron Field's First Fruits of Australian Poetry (Sydney, 1819).

"This is an imaginative way of supporting our poets, and linking their work to the educational sector to the benefit of all," said Brian Johns, Chair of the CAL Cultural Fund.

The site will continue adding new poets as well as critical and contextual material including interviews, photographs and audio/visual recordings which will be a boon for students, teachers and other researchers.

The poems can be accessed and read freely on the web or, for a small fee, readers can print the poems. Part of every fee is returned to the poets whose work remains in copyright with the remainder invested in ongoing site maintenance. There is also the opportunity to create personalised anthologies online or in print.

The website will be launched with an anthology of 20 poems, a collection of favourites chosen by the team who worked on collecting and digitizing the poems.

CAL's Cultural Fund assistance of $150,000 for three years (along with in-kind rights management support) assisted in securing a $600,000 Australian Research Council Linkage grant, the largest ever made for a humanities based project.

The CAL Cultural Fund supports a wide variety of projects across Australia which aim to encourage cultural development and provide practical assistance to CAL's members and the greater Australian cultural community. The Cultural Fund is funded entirely through the financial contributions of CAL members (Australian authors, journalists, publishers and visual artists) and supports innovation and further development of Australian creative industries.

Contact: Verity Leatherdale

Phone: (02) 9351 4312, 0419 278 715

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