Do you want to listen to poetry read out loud? There is something about hearing a poet give vocal and emotional life to their work. I’m a sucker for this. So when I came across Penn Sound, I was absolutely wetting my pants; all these poetry readings I didn’t attend, waiting for me to open them, recreate the event in my head, relive it, hear it as if it were happening right now, just for me.

“PennSound is an ongoing project, committed to producing new audio recordings and preserving existing audio archives,” says their website.  Started in 2002, it is a project of the Center for Programs & Contemporary Writing at the University of Pennsylvania (CPCW).

The MP3s and videos on the website can be streamed or downloaded.

How is a project like this relevant to the poet trying to get their work out there? Here are a few ways:

1. It reminds us that poetry is alive and kicking.

Oftentimes, we are tempted to think that poetry is a dying art. Far from it. From Instagram poets to archives like PennSound, poetry has many wings and is soaring in the blue above us and in skies we yet cannot see.

2. It is a great way for engaging with poetry

The beauty of voice. Sometimes poetry is best heard and not read. Best experienced with our eyes closed and all the other senses open.

3. Oh, the inspiration

If you’re stuck as a poet, or if you’re sitting there thinking this is useless, life is useless, I am useless, listen to a few poets and hear them light up as they read or perform their work and you too will light up. When we’re exposed to creativity, it fuels our own expression.



PICTURE: Screenshot – Davy Knittle and Amber Rose Johnson introduce poet Tonya Foster at the Kelly Writers House, University of Pennsylvania in Philadelphia. Watch the video on PennSound.

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