It’s National Poetry Month, which is exciting for the seven percent of people who actually read poetry.
For the rest of us, any mention of poetry elicits one of two reactions: (1) a feeling of guilt for not reading more poetry or (2) a shrug.
We get it. Poetry can feel intimidating or unwelcoming. Sometimes, you read a page or two of verse and wonder what just happened there.
But there’s another way to engage with poetry—perhaps an easier, more friendly way. You can listen to it.
Check out these poetry audiobooks and e-audiobooks that you can stream right to your phone, tablet or computer. Let the words flow over you, and you might find that you enjoy poetry more than you thought.
Poetry on Record is a great place to start. It features 98 poets—from Lord Alfred Tennyson to Sylvia Plath to Ogden Nash—performing their own poems. That’s perfect; because, as the writer, they have an intuitive understanding of how to best perform their poetry.
Speaking of which, Shel Silverstein is still the best narrator of Shel Silverstein (until Christopher Walken records an audiobook of his poetry.) His voice has the same crackle as his writing.
Is your child ready for more than Dr. Seuss? Both of these collections—with poems from John Keats, Laura Paton, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow and more—are fun and spectacular for children of both sexes.
Seamus Heaney is one of the finest poets ever produced by the island of Ireland, and that’s saying something considering his competition. He wrote a beautiful, lyrical translation of the epic Beowulf that you can stream for free from either OverDrive or Hoopla.
I, Too, Sing America stretches across three centuries of African-American poetry, from Lucy Terry to Rita Dove. You’ll hear masterpieces from Langston Hughes, Alice Walker, Gwendolyn Brooks, Maya Angelou and so many more.
This collection pairs actual bird songs and calls with the poems they inspired, including “The Raven” by Edgar Allan Poe, “The Oriole’s Secret” by Emily Dickinson, “To a Skylark” by Percy Bysshe Shelley, “The Birds of Killingworth” by Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, “The Oven Bird” by Robert Frost, “Thoreau’s Flute” by Louisa May Alcott and more.
Shakespeare’s sonnets are lovely, but they tend to get eclipsed by his plays. This audiobook pairs his poetry with classical music to make the listening even easier.
Keillor culls some of his favorite poems read on his public radio show, The Writer’s Almanac, for this collection. It features classic poets, such as Emily Dickinson and Robert Frost, as well as contemporary greats such as Howard Nemerov, Charles Bukowski, Robert Bly, and Sharon Olds.
Admittedly, this list has been heavy on European and North American poets while ignoring the other continents. It’s time to rectify that. This audiobook collects two of the most important Japanese poems ever written.
12. Classic 50 Poems
Looking for a collection that contains those half-remembered poems from school? This is a great place to start. In contains 50 of the most anthologized poems ever.