Library of Congress Launches New Online Poetry Archive, Featuring 75 Years of Classic Poetry Readings

LOC poetry archive frost

Image by Fred Palumbo, made available by the Library of Congress.

Put THIS in your pocket. The Library of Congress is celebrating National Poetry Month by launching its new Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature. It debuts with 50 choice poetry recordings, spanning 75 years of time. In the past, you’d have had to visit the library in person to listen to these goodies on reel-to-reel tape. Now you can take them to the gym, plug in as you wash dishes, post online links for your minions to enjoy.

Newly ensconced Consultant in Poetry Gwendolyn Brooks (was there ever a more recognizable voice?) prefaces her reading by pledging her intention to register “on the public consciousness and conscience the generally neglected richness of ‘minority poetry.’”

Robert Frost tells Randall Jarrell of his desire to identify American antiquity — to feature in his poetry a woodchopper’s hut that looks “as old as Babylon.”

Paul Muldoon shares the story of how he came to own the eelskin bag that is the star of “The Briefcase.”

Armchair travelers who still yearn to make that trip to DC in their minds will enjoy Elizabeth Bishop‘s “View of the Capitol from the Library of Congress” (at the 4:02 mark), read at the Library of Congress’s own Coolidge Auditorium. Visitors can also stream readings by Ray Bradbury (below), Margaret Atwood, and Kurt Vonnegut.

As part of its ongoing commitment to the form, the Library will be adding to the online archive on a monthly basis. Let every month be Poetry Month! You can stream the complete collection here.

Related Content:

Penn Sound: Fantastic Audio Archive of Modern & Contemporary Poets

Stream Classic Poetry Readings from Harvard’s Rich Audio Archive: From W.H. Auden to Dylan Thomas

Listen to 90 Famous Authors & Celebrities Read Great Stories & Poems

Ayun Halliday is an author, illustrator, and Chief Primatologist of the East Village Inky zine. Follow her @AyunHalliday


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