Here’s what eSchool News says about the archive:
July 1, 2007—Thanks to an online audio archive developed by professors at the University of Pennsylvania, recordings of Ezra Pound or William Carlos Williams can take their places on students’ iPods alongside tunes from Better than Ezra or Carlos Santana. Recordings of these two poets’ works are now available free of charge through PennSound, which features about 200 writers and more than 10,000 recordings contributed by poets, fans, and scholars worldwide. The two-year-old site recently acquired rare readings by Pound, some previously unknown. Hearing any poet “makes the poems easier to move into, in some cases,” said Tree Swenson, director of the Academy of American Poets in New York. “Our ears are less logical than our eyes, somehow.” Pound in particular, she said, “is a perfect example of a poet whose tone and phrasing is so distinctive.” While many web sites stream poetry readings, they require an active internet connection. With PennSound, files are downloadable in MP3 format and can be played offline and on portable devices such as iPods, said Charles Bernstein, an English professor and the site’s co-director.
Wow. Ezra Pound may not have a lot of usage in high school classes, but the PennSound site features a lot of commentary by highly-qualified students of literature, and poets. There are good readings of classics by good readers, where the authors were long-dead before audio recording was invented — such as John Richetti reading Pope and Swift.
I think the material is not perfectly catalogued. Go look around the site to see what you can find.
This is wonderfully promising.
And, if you’re looking for poetry read aloud, check out The Poetry Foundation, too: PoetryFoundation.org. That site features the complete text to one of my favorite poems from contemporary poets, “The Shirt,” by the late Jane Kenyon. Her husband, the poet Donald Hall, provided a reading of it for NPR once upon a time (here’s another reading by Hall of the same poem) (Here’s more on Hall as the nation’s Poet Laureate).
Poets reading poetry is often wonderful — take twice daily, repeat for the rest of your life.