Poetry News

All the Vachel Lindsay Fit to Play

By Harriet Staff

Vachel Lindsay

A few weeks ago we were intrigued by Chris Mustazza's inquiries into the provenance of a William Carlos Williams recording made in collaboration with the National Council of Teachers of English (NCTE) and Columbia University Press in 1942, posted over at Jacket2. Toward the end of that post mention was made about a series of Vachel Lindsay recordings. Now, you can travel to PennSound and experience what Mustazza's suggests "represents nearly every extant recording of Lindsay reading."!! Mustazz sussed out the provenance of the Lindsay recordings, finding that they "were made in 1931 at Columbia University, recorded by Barnard professor W. Cabell Greet, a lexicologist and scholar of American dialects." More on the recordings:

The recordings here were originally made on aluminum platters. They were subsequently dubbed to reel-to-reel tapes by the Library of Congress in the 1970s. These digitizations are made from the reels, which are stored at Columbia University. I made the decision to present the recordings in the order in which Columbia numbered the aluminum platters, which may or may not be the same sequence used by Greet and Lindsay, except for where I reordered them to keep parts of the same poem together. Sequence numbers, as well as record numbers, are available in the file names. I also removed files which were clearly duplicates, but included some files as alternate takes, where I could not confirm whether the file was a duplicate or not. --Chris Mustazza, University of Pennsylvania

Head to PennSound to hear these remarkable recordings and scan a slew of useful notes.