April 20, 2015

The Library of Congress releases 50 audio recordings (and counting!) online for the first time


300px-Library_of_Congress_Great_Hall_-_Jan_2006The New York Times reports that the Library of Congress has begun posting recordings from its Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature in honor of National Poetry Month.

50 of the collection’s nearly 2,000 audio recordings are now available online, and another will be added each month as the program continues. This initial sample includes a 1971 lecture by Kurt Vonnegut; Robert Frost’s interview with Randall Jarrell; readings by Elizabeth Bishop, Galway Kinnell, Rita Dove, William Meredith, Gwendolyn Brooks, Paul Muldoon, and many others; Ray Bradbury’s excellent lecture, “Beyond 1984: What To Do When The Doom Doesn’t Arrive”; audio from the Academy of American Poets 35th anniversary program in 1969, and more. Start listening here. 

The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature began in 1943, when Allen Tate was Consultant in Poetry (in 1985 an act of Congress changed the title from “Consultant in Poetry to the Library of Congress” to “Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry”) and inaugurated an annual series of public poetry and fiction readings, lectures, interviews, symposia, and dramatic performances that now make up the library’s vast audio archive. Because most of the recordings were captured on magnetic tape reels, the material had previously been limited to researches who visited the library in person, but the new digitization project opens it up to readers–and listeners–everywhere for the first time.


Taylor Sperry is an editor at Melville House.