“Poetry lives everywhere,” said Tracy K. Smith, teacher and writer and America’s Poet Laureate, as she kicked off April’s National Poetry Month a few weeks ago. As a listener—to audiobooks, poetry, podcasts, and even the eloquence of a speaker—I love that we celebrate all of these in sound.
In Smith’s new collection of poetry WADE IN THE WATER—which of course she reads—we hear her unhurried presentation of cadences and rhythm. And happily for listeners, her earlier collections, DUENDE and LIFE ON MARS, have also been released as audiobooks. In today’s New York Times there is a great conversation between Smith and Jacqueline Woodson, “Tracy K. Smith and Jacqueline Woodson Talk Reading Race and Spreading the Gospel of Literature.”
Woodson, our National Ambassador for Young People’s Literature, is also a poet. BROWN GIRL DREAMING and LOCOMOTION are both Earphones Award winners. A new poetry audiobook collection to add to these great family listening choices is Kwame Alexander’s OUT OF WONDER: Poems Celebrating Poets.
If you love traditional English poetry, there are some recent audio collections for you. The engaging star power of Jeremy Irons makes his THE POEMS OF T.S. ELIOT totally worth your listening time. A Naxos AudioBooks collection, as always with wonderful musical support, GREAT POETS OF THE ROMANTIC AGE lets Michael Sheen deliver Keats, Coleridge, Shelley, and Blake. Naxos has a comprehensive range of recorded poetry. I found listening to the sound clip from the GREAT POETS: Emily Dickinson collection was such a profound contrast to Smith’s WADE IN THE WATER. Would Emily Dickinson have been America’s Poet Laureate in 1860s? (The Library of Congress established the position in 1937.) If you are interested in that question, the Poetry Foundation offers a discussion of Civil War poetry, “A Poetry-Fueled War.”
For more insights into poetry on audio, visit Aurelia’s post from November, “Shoutout to Sonnets.”