Wednesday, December 19, 2007

The Voice of the Poet

There is something especially intriguing about hearing a poet read their own works. It's like hearing a giant of the silent film era; sometimes they have a thin, reedy voice that is at odds with their powerful persona, and sometimes their voice seems to be a natural extension of their character. With poets, there is the added interest of hearing how they envision the pace of their narrative and the words they choose to emphasize. Poetry is meant to be spoken out loud, and we have a new series of audiobooks which showcases some of America's most famous poets reading their own works. You can hear the voices of W.H. Auden, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Langston Hughes and Sylvia Plath, and all of these discs contain never-before released recordings. We also have a disc entitled American Wits, which includes Dorothy Parker, Ogden Nash and Phyllis McGinley. Anyone who enjoys listening to Garrison Keillor's Writers Almanac or the radio program Selected Shorts on KRBD will love these sets. Since each set comes with a text of the poems, a bibliography and a commentary by J.D. McClatchy, editor of the Yale Review, they are a must for any student of poetry and a wonderful classroom aid. Listen and enjoy.

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