Established in 1967 by Ted Hughes and Patrick Garland the festival aimed to bring together poets as the 'voice of spirit and imagination'. Since then poets have arrived from across the world. Anne Sexton was described as reading in 'shocking pink', Dame Edna Everage was said to have gone to the Royal Albert Hall by mistake, and in 2012 thousands of poems were dropped from a helicopter over London's South Bank.
Listen to A Poet's Guide to the Archive, a commission of new work grounded in Southbank Centre's Poetry International archives. Find out more about endangered languages as part of the National Poetry Library's Endangered Poetry Project and read poems sent to the library in response to its call out for poems in languages that are in danger of being lost forever.
'The idea of global unity is not new, but the absolute necessity of it has only just arrived, like a sudden radical alteration of the sun' (From the first Poetry International introduction by Ted Hughes in 1967)