Hear the Essential American Poets

Former U.S. Poet Laureate Donald Hall picked over 100 of the century's best poets—now listen to them read their best work in a new PF podcast series.

by The Editors

“You listening here,” Donald Hall wrote in “The Cup,” “you reading these words as I write them, / I offer this cup to you: Though we drink / from this cup every day, we will never drink it dry.”

During his tenure as U.S. poet laureate, Donald Hall chose to share his lifelong pleasure of hearing poetry read aloud with others. He selected more than 100 essential American poets for people to listen to. This week, we’re making available the first set of these recordings on and on as part of a collaboration between Donald Hall and the U.K. Poet Laureate, Andrew Motion.

In addition to including them in our online archive, the Poetry Foundation is issuing a new biweekly podcast of the recordings. The first “Essential American Poets” podcast features Gwendolyn Brooks reading her poems at the Library of Congress on January 19, 1961. The poems include “of De Witt Williams on his way to Lincoln Cemetery,” “The Lovers of the Poor,” “the mother,” and “A Sunset of the City.”

Hall says of the project, “The entryway to poetry is the beauty of its sound. This online archive of poetry recordings opens the wholeness of poetry to the world’s ear.”

Listen to Gwendolyn Brooks' Essential American Poets Podcast:
Originally Published: September 16, 2008


On September 18, 2008 at 10:08am janardanpudasaini wrote:
I enjoy a lot hearing Brooks.She express marginal peoples voice.That's why i like her expression.

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Originally appeared in Poetry magazine.

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