Welcome to the Archive of the Now.

On this page you can find out a bit more about what we collect, the history of the project, and ways to navigate the collection.

What’s in the Archive?

The Archive of the Now is a digital and print collection of poetry.

Inspired by resources such as UBUWeb and PennSound, we hope to represent the true diversity of poetic practice in the UK. We are dedicated to supporting emerging authors, providing a new distribution network for challenging poetry, and opening up opportunities for collaboration and exchange.

The Archive focuses on audio recordings of experimental and innovative poets performing for live audiences and in studio settings. Many of the recordings were made in the poet’s home using portable digital recording equipment. While the quality and sound-proofing may vary, each recording gives a unique insight into the sounding of this challenging and inspiring body of work.

As of October 2013 we have over 170 poets on the site, but new recordings are being added all the time. We have a substantial list of poets we hope to record in the next two years, but we welcome suggestions of other poets working within the experimental tradition in (or with ties to) the UK.

In addition to sound recordings, the Archive provides information on individual poets, with links to their publishers, online projects and other material. The print archive includes small press publications, chapbooks, little magazines, manuscripts and correspondence. The archives of the late British poet Bill Griffiths form a major part of this collection.

‘To be asked to contribute felt like an important recognition of my work.’ (Scott Thurston)

‘The live performance of the written text has been something I have assumed as part of my practice since the start – and the presence of an audience – so that the effect on the audience and the dialogue with an audience is part of my working assumptions.’ (Robert Hampson)

‘It’s almost as if the poems “develop” in the listener’s ear when they’re spoken aloud, perhaps like a photograph in its darkroom tray.’ (Mario Petrucci)

‘I “write” by recording my speaking voice. I write about speaking as writing. The best poets have “an ear”. I work in performance and in poetry. I work with multiple voices.’ (Fiona Templeton)

‘The performance is very important for me, but just because that is so I do not believe the poet’s performance is “definitive” or somehow “fixes” it in one place – I think the written text and the culture heading its way offer many many interesting choices for performance.’ (Richard Price)

‘The poem is composed with the voice and to be read out loud for its full embodiment to be felt.’ (Peter Robinson)

‘Sometimes the work benefits from a live and pubic performance, which permits improvisations of emphasis, volume and even, sometimes, content or “asides”. Sometimes these advantages do not apply and the work benefits from not being heard by the author’s “voice”.’ (Allen Fisher)

‘I feel that the prospect of performance, an imagined performance based on the experience of previous performances, is the most important factor in shaping poems. I read my work aloud to myself when composing. I need to be able to read a piece convincingly for it to work.’ (Tony Lopez)

‘Poetry (maybe not all poetry, but most) is an auditory experience for the audience (bodily for the writer).’ (Robert Sheppard)

How do I use the Archive?

All the recordings on the site can be streamed and downloaded for free. We are planning to introduce playlists and mixing tools to allow our users to explore and experiment with the works we host.

Who runs the Archive?

The Archive was founded in 2005 and built by Andrea Brady, initially with resources from Brunel University. When I moved to Queen Mary University of London in 2007, I brought the digital assets with me, but the printed materials stayed at Brunel where they can be accessed by researchers. Many of the recordings were made and edited by me, while others were produced by my assistants, including Jacqui Johnson, Mafruha Mohua, Penelope Woods, Iñigo Garrido and others.

In 2013-14, the Archive is hosting its first residency. Each month the poet and critic Sophie Mayer is producing essays which respond to some aspect of the Archive. These thought-provoking examinations of text in a digital age are excellent introductions to the collection for new users.

How can I contribute?

The Archive hopes to provide space for new online – audio, video, visual and digital – poetics projects: please contact us if you would like to discuss this further, or if you would like to use or deposit material in the archive, or make suggestions about new poets who should be included here. We are eager to respond to your feedback on the project. Please use the links in the menu to contact us.

The Technicalities

This is a not-for-profit site. All the recordings can be downloaded free of charge, and redistributed for noncommercial or educational uses; but if you do use any of these files on your own site, we ask that you please include a link to the Archive website so that the project can continue to attract new audiences.

Creative Commons License
This work is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike 3.0 Unported License.

Welcome, and enjoy!

Andrea Brady
Queen Mary University of London