One of the projects I have been working on the past couple of years is the preservation of recordings made by the Woodberry Poetry Room at Harvard University. This collection is beyond cool. It consists of audio recordings of the worlds very best poets reading their own work.
The centerpiece of the Poetry Room is its audio archive. Inaugurated by a 1930s recording of T.S. Eliot by the pioneering audio engineer Frederick C. Packard, the Woodberry’s inimitable audio collection has grown into one of the most comprehensive recording collections of poetry in the country. The collection today includes recordings by John Ashbery, W. H. Auden, Ted Berrigan, Elizabeth Bishop, Yves Bonnefoy, Joseph Brodsky, Gwendolyn Brooks, Robert Creeley, E. E. Cummings, Robert Duncan, Robert Frost, Allen Ginsberg, Louise Gluck, Ted Hughes, Robinson Jeffers, Philip Larkin, Denise Levertov, Audre Lorde, Robert Lowell, Czeslaw Milosz, Marianne Moore, Vladimir Nabokov, Sharon Olds, Sylvia Plath, Adrienne Rich, Siegfried Sassoon, Anne Sexton, Wallace Stevens and James Tate. It is, according to Nobel laureate Seamus Heaney, “indispensable: it contains not only the voices—from different times of their lives—of the greatest poets, but constitutes a living history of modern poetry.”
The WPR has finally launched its Listening Booth feature where scholars and the general public may gain access to these wonderful recordings.