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Australian poetry reaches ‘far and wide’!

The Australian Poetry Library site reaches thousands of poetry lovers worldwide, connecting users with research interests, study materials, long-lost memories and their favourite poems.

The Australian Poetry Library hosts tens of thousands of poems by some of Australia’s most frequently studied and influential poets. It was successfully launched by University of Sydney academics in conjunction with the Australian Copyright Agency's Cultural Fund in 2011, and it is our mission to ensure its longevity well into the future.

The Poetry Library allows users to browse and view thousands of poems by the poets who were selected to be a part of the initial launch of the website. Poems can also be added to a user’s ‘Selection’, and have the ability to create their own poetry anthology that can be downloaded as a PDF. The site charges a small fee to create an anthology, starting from 25c (to cover the processing fee) for out-of-copyright poems, up to a maximum of $2 per in-copyright poem, most of which goes straight back to the poets.

These anthologies are hugely beneficial to poetry-loving Australians, allowing students to create study guides, researchers to assess a variety of poetry styles, and anybody can recover a long-lost memory or find the perfect poetic sentiment for a special occasion.

Screenshot from the Visit Melbourne advertisement showing a tram crossing a bridge, with the words Far and Wide superimposed over the top
EJ Brady’s emotive poem overtook Banjo Paterson for the first time ever to be the Poetry Library's most viewed poem in January–March 2016

For thousands of people worldwide, this year the site proved extremely valuable in tracking down a special poem by early 20th-century poet EJ Brady. A few stanzas of the poem ‘Far and Wide’ were featured in an advertisement for ‘Visit Melbourne’, on rotation during the Australian Open tennis tournament in January. Curious poetry lovers were able to discover the full text of this emotive and melodic poem, making ‘Far and Wide’ the most-viewed poem on the site for the first quarter of 2016 – knocking AB ‘Banjo’ Paterson off his perch for the first time in the Poetry Library’s history!

A recent analysis of the pages visited on the site has been eye-opening, showing us how people use the site, from where they log on, and what content is most viewed.

  • One-third of Poetry Library users are outside of Australia, proving that Australian poetry punches well above its weight on a global scale
  • Australian site usage in the states and territories roughly matches population, with a slight skew towards NSW users
  • More than 1800 individual users view the site on a daily basis, searching mainly for specific poems
  • Australian users visit about 3.5 pages each time they visit, while international users visit slightly less: 3.2

And, we were able to identify the top five viewed Australian poems! (For the period January–March this year)

Top 5 Australian poems

  1. Far and Wide, EJ Brady
  2. The Man From Snowy River, Banjo Paterson
  3. Clancy of the Overflow, Banjo Paterson
  4. Mulga Bills Bicycle, Banjo Paterson
  5. No More Boomerang, Oodgeroo Noonuccal

Future posts will continue to report on our favourite Australian poems for the rest of the year. Stay tuned!

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