I Wanna Hear

Robert Hayden

Carl Sandburg

I Wanna Hear

I listen to poetry on my ipod while I stretch at the gym before a workout. Guess what? England (Caedmon, BBC, etc.) really kicks our ass when it comes to recorded poetry. It’s easy to find poets like Dylan Thomas available on CD in addition to actors such as Boris Karloff reading Kipling or James Mason reading The Rime of the Ancient Mariner. There are also many recordings of fine stage performers reading just about every major British and Irish poet.

But it’s slim pickins for recorded American poetry. Poetry Speaks is a nice project, but it’s only four CDs. And even the excellent Voice of the Poet series has only one female poet available on CD (Adrienne Rich) and nothing on CD from Robert Lowell, Elizabeth Bishop, Theodore Roethke or Sylvia Plath.

I don’t think Americans will ever crave poetry the way people in other countries do. And I don’t expect to live to see a time when it is common to find people reciting poetry in front of large audiences in parks and amphitheaters.

But wouldn’t it be cool if, once in a while, instead of presenting music from some no-hit wonder, maybe Dave/Jay/Jimmy/Conan/George could feature:

CCH Pounder reciting If I Should Die by Emily Dickinson

Brad Pitt reciting Burnt Norton by T.S. Eliot

Martin Sheen reciting Samurai Song by Robert Pinsky

Sigourney Weaver reciting Aunt Jennifer’s Tigers by Adrienne Rich

Holland Taylor reciting Bohemia by Dorothy Parker

James Earl Jones reciting anything by Carl Sandburg

Rosie Perez reciting Mad Girl’s Love Song by Sylvia Plath

Kelsey Grammer reciting Those Winter Sundays by Robert Hayden

by Richard W. Bray

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