Welcome to the new Poets.org

Posted on

Apr 29 2014

After a year’s worth of work, we’re happy to introduce the new Poets.org, the most popular publicly-funded poetry website, with tens of millions of visits each year.

We hope you’ll take a moment to explore the poems, essays, videos, and other content we’ve featured on the homepage, and, make yourself at home.

Please know that over the next few months, we will continue working on the site.

Why redesign?

Since the Academy of American Poets launched Poets.org in 1996, the site has been one of the leading destinations for poetry online, and the previous version of Poets.org continued to be enjoyed by users. Unfortunately, the technology supporting the site was more than ten years old. Some features and functionality of the site had become broken and were not able to be repaired. And, the architecture and design of the site had also become outdated. In short, we could no longer safely support the traffic or house the thousands of pages of content on the site.

However, as we headed toward our eightieth anniversary in 2014, we viewed the necessary redesign of Poets.org as an opportunity. By updating the technology we have ensured that the Academy of American Poets can introduce poets to a new generation of readers, and make poetry more accessible than ever before.

What’s new on the new Poets.org?

Firstly, we aimed to create a simplified, visually driven, and mobile-friendly navigation, and menus that create paths so that poets, poetry readers, and teachers might easily find the content they’re looking for.

We are proud to say that the site has been built so that we might make the full breadth of Poets.org content easily available to mobile users for the first time.

We also wanted to be sure that poets' work—poems—were presented as beautifully as possible. Toward that end, the new Poets.org showcases poems in a newly restored version of Electra, a typeface long associated with literary excellence, and originally designed in 1935—just a year after the founding of the Academy of American Poets.

Humanistic in its design and made for literary use from the outset, Electra became the standard typography of the Norton anthology and countless other works of American arts and letters. Though the typeface has existed in digital form for some time, its full range of weights, including a text weight ideal for poetry and particularly screen reading, had not been digitized. We worked with graphic designers Project Projects and type designer Christian Schwartz of Commercial Type to bring this classic American font back to life on the web, where it will appear exclusively on Poets.org for the next few years.

Because many millions of people enjoy reading poems on our site and on our social media channels, we wanted to be sure we promoted shareability.

Users are now able to embed individual poems from Poets.org—similar to the way one might embed a YouTube video—and share them on almost any social network or webpage while ensuring that formatting and typography are preserved as these poems are shared, circulated, and reposted by users.

The site also makes extensive use of geolocation, offering listings of poetry-friendly bookstores, writing programs, literary centers, and landmarks in every state and region.

We think poetry is the perfect art form for the digital and mobile age, and hopefully our site and our efforts will, over time, help make that case even more compelling.

And, we’ll be working more closely with partner organizations to ensure that we are not duplicating others’ efforts, but celebrating and promoting them. For example, we’ll feature a creative collection of lesson plans for K-12 teachers, made available in partnership with 826 National, which inspire young people to write poems, from their fabulous book Don’t Forget to Write.

We will be introducing other features in the months and years ahead. To stay in touch and hear about new additions to Poets.org, sign up to receive our newsletter.