Poetry Center’s Audiovisual Archive Voca Launches New Website and Accessibility Features

Tucson, Arizona. June 3, 2022— The University of Arizona Poetry Center, part of the College of Humanities, is excited to announce a new website and accessibility options for its audiovisual archive, Voca. Voca will showcase new interactive features like staff picks and playlists, allow easier link-sharing and discovery options, and thanks to a grant from the Mellon Foundation, will soon become the largest captioned digital poetry archive in the English language.  

Voca features 1000+ recordings from the Center's long-running Reading & Lecture Series and other readings presented under the auspices of the Center. The earliest of these recordings is a Robert Creeley reading from 1963. Voca's library of recordings is growing. We are constantly adding the latest recordings from the Center's ongoing reading series, along with newly digitized content from our five decades (and counting) of history. With the addition of these new features, lovers of poetry will be better able to share and experience this rich archive for years to come.

With the support of the Mellon Foundation for captioning services, the Poetry Center hopes to amplify diverse voices, make the archive accessible for users with disabilities, and make the archive more usable for general Web audiences and humanities scholars. The collection of poetry recordings the Poetry Center intends to caption reflects a continuously-expanding range of voices, including Indigenous, Black, AAPI, Latinx, LGBTQIA+, and other minoritized writers, as well as 4 Nobel Laureates, 28 U.S. Poets Laureate, 45 Pulitzer Prize winners, and 40 National Book Award winners.

Library Director Sarah Kortemeier said, “This new version of Voca has been years in the making, and we could not be more excited to share it with our audiences. We are particularly thrilled to be able to offer captioning for this rich digital resource thanks to the generous support of the Mellon Foundation, and we will be working to add captions to each Voca file throughout the coming year. We hope that what we learn from this project can be useful to our peer organizations, as well, and that we can all work together to improve accessibility for digital literary archives across the board.”

Poetry Center Executive Director Tyler Meier continued, “In a collecting archive like the Poetry Center, wonders abound—but primary among them is the Voca archive of freely accessible poetry readings. You can track a version of American letters from 1960 to the present in what is found and growing there. I echo Sarah in celebrating this critical support from the Mellon Foundation, and in celebrating decades of excellent, consistent and creative librarianship at the Poetry Center that makes our work possible.  To all who are attentive to the kinds of experiences that poetry provides: we couldn’t be more excited to share this new version of Voca with you.   

Visit Voca at voca.arizona.edu and stay connected to the Poetry Center’s work on this project at poetry.arizona.edu.