Poetry used to be a closed circuit, Emily Warn is saying. She runs PoetryFoundation.org, a site that has a couple of hundred million in funding, that just won a Webby – they have thousands of poems, classic and contemporary poems chosen for their literary value, and they’re online and searchable. After just a year, they have a lot of readers and a lot of links from people of all kinds using their poems. Playing with the tension between the high culture and the general audience is exactly what they want to do. Until the web, the literary world hasn’t had an audience large enough or voracious enough to search through all those texts and find the gems. In addition to a really useful database of classic and contemporary poems, they play with graphic interpretations of poems and more, and explore what happens when a mass audience uses classical poems in their own ways instead of in the ways schools and literati want them to.

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