Sunday, March 20, 2016

Words in the Air: Hearing Poems Aloud

I am a great fan of reading poems out loud. I read to my students, my cats, my friends, my lover. When I am revising a poem, I need to hear it out loud many times. The air is where a poem lives. It needs the human voice for completion.

A number of years ago Nic Sebastian gave a call asking for poems to be read aloud on her very cool blog. For some reason, I am only listening to my poem, ""4 'o' Clock News @ The House of Sky" today. You can hear her read my poem right here in her beautiful, lilting voice.

When I teach poetry at Highline College, the voices of Naomi Shihab Nye, Sekou Sundiata and Rita Dove join us in the classroom. I co-curate a multi-genre series on the third Wednesday of the month: WordsWest Literary Series, where we record the visiting writers and create podcasts that anyone can download and then listen to. Kelli Russell Agodon and January O'Neil, Rick Barot and Lena Khalaf Tuffaha, Oliver de la Paz and Claudia Castro Luna have been some of our poet pairings.

To me, the easy access to recordings --- from being able to record on our phones to the simple ease with which we can locate a voice recording on the internet of, say, William Butler Yeats or Sylvia Plath, make this an amazing literary concert of voices.

What are some of your favorite sites for listening to poems?

I'd suggest starting with Nic Sebastian's Very Like a Whale and the Poetry Foundation's web site.