By Stephen Adams
Poetry, long thought of as an art form in terminal decline, is taking off on the internet according to new figures.
The British-based Poetry Archive has released statistics that visitors to its website are now viewing a total of more than one million pages a month.
More than 125,000 individuals - or unique users - have visited the site, which hosts poems and audio readings by the poets themselves.
Andrew Motion, the British Poet Laureate, who co-founded the Poetry Archive in 2005, said of the figures: "It's giving the lie to the idea that nobody reads poems any more."
He thought the internet was providing a better medium for poetry than books. "Either books have not been doing the job or they are being outmanoeuvred by the internet."
His comments come as it puts recordings by another 14 major 20th century American poets online.
Kay Ryan, recently appointed as the US Poet Laureate, is among the 14 to have a total of 61 of their recordings made available on the website. She reads poems such as Paired Things and Flamingo Watching on the site.
Others to have their readings join the digital age are Gwendolyn Brooks and Theodore Roethke. It is part of a major collaboration with the US organisation the Poetry Foundation to educate the British about American poets.
More American poets will be added in the future.
Mr Motion commented: "Adding these American voices to the Poetry Archive has been a real revelation to us, given the rarity of some of the recordings in the UK, which means we were hearing many of these famous names for the first time.
"And what a wonderful variety of accents and rhythms is implied by that single word 'American'- one day you might be listening to Ted Kooser's wise, deep tones transporting the listener to the stillness of a Nebraskan winter evening, the next to the restrained anguish of Yusef Komunyakaa commemorating the sufferings of the Vietnam war.
"Throughout the experience of listening to and writing about these voices we feel we've been mapping America in a new and intimate way."
Emily Warn, editor of the Poetry Foundation, added: "Andrew Motion was one of the first to recognise that the internet is allowing millions of people to experience poetry in its oldest form — as an oral art form.
"Adding recordings of great American poets to the Poetry Archive makes it an even more comprehensive resource for people interested in listening to poetry."
The 12 American poets added to the Poetry Archive are: Gwendolyn Brooks; Hayden Carruth; Galway Kinnell; Yusef Komunyakaa; Ted Kooser; Philip Levine; Marilyn Hacker; Heather McHugh; Theodore Roethke; Kay Ryan; Jean Valentine; Rodney Jones; Robert Pinsky; and William Carlos Williams.