The Sonnet Project

July 31, 2015

The Sonnet ProjectIf you are interested in Shakespeare, or sonnets, or New York City, The Sonnet Project has it all. The idea, originally slated for completion on Shakespeare’s 450th birthday (April 23rd 2014), is “to film all of Shakespeare’s sonnets, each performed by a different actor in a carefully chosen New York City location.”

When that deadline turned out to be unmanageable, the New York Shakespeare Exchange forged ahead anyway. Today there is a Sonnet Project website (with daily sonnet postings), Facebook page, Twitter feed and a Sonnet Project app. The films are posted on the website and on YouTube.

If you’re interested in recitation, this is a great place to hear Shakespeare.

can you say scansion?

May 17, 2015

for better for verse

Perhaps your poetic preferences don’t run to traditionally-metered verse. But whether your words rhyme or not, an understanding of meter can help you hear the music in any text and make you a better reader-aloud of your own poetry.

The University of Virginia Department of English offers an online tutorial that is both easy to use and instructive: for better or verse. The site includes a collection of some five dozen poems and an interactive tool that allows you to test your understanding of meter. There is a glossary of relevant terms and some poems also have audio links. The Instructions are detailed, helpful and a good place to start.


April 27, 2015

Victor Perard - Anatomy

If you enjoy hearing poetry well read, listen up.

The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress contains some two thousand items, which are gradually being made available online.

From the Fishouse a “free online audio archive showcases emerging poets (defined for this purpose as poets with fewer than two published books of poetry at the time of submission) reading their own poems, as well as answering questions about poetry and the writing process.”

The Poetry Streamer is The Cortland Review’s radio station of poetry. It streams all the publication’s poetry recordings from the past 15 years in random order.

Book Riot has posted a video collection of “10 More Famous Poems Recited by Famous People.”
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image from Anatomy and Drawing by Victor Perard, 1928

listen up

April 3, 2015

Poetry Now

Got five minutes? Spend it at PoetryNow, a new podcast partnership between the Poetry Foundation and WFMT in Chicago. Each five-minute audio segment features a poet reading and talking about a single poem. You can subscribe to receive the twice-weekly releases or wait for them to show up on the Poetry Foundation website. See the announcement and the full schedule of upcoming episodes or go directly to the first PoetryNow segment, Jericho Brown reading and talking about his poem “Herman Finley.”

how to read a poem

March 27, 2015

Leicester Cathedral

Now and then a poem finds its way into the heart of an historic moment. Yesterday, at Leicester Cathedral, amidst pomp and ceremony, Carol Ann Duffy’s poem “Richard” was honored with such a moment. As part of the reburial of the bones of Richard III, Benedict Cumberbatch read Duffy’s poem. Watch and listen. Then read more about the ceremony from the BBC.

about those CDs…

March 25, 2015

Mary Oliver CDPerhaps your CD collection is still in vigorous rotation. Then again, maybe you’ve gone back to vinyl or you’ve set aside all discs in favor of digital. If you find your CDs — music, poetry, etc. — are just taking up valuable shelf space, the Washington State Library “will gratefully, happily and enthusiastically take those CDs off your hands.” CDs are a very welcome and well-used addition to the libraries in state hospitals and prisons, where digital players are not an option. Donations may be sent to:
Washington State Library
ATTN: Laura Sherbo
6880 Capitol Blvd SE
Tumwater, WA 98504

Poetry Out Loud

March 23, 2015

Alex HanesworthOur congratulations to Alex Hanesworth, a junior from Anacortes High School, who is the Washington State Finalist in the 2015 Poetry Out Loud National Recitation Contest. Alex and other state winners will now advance to the semifinals, which will be webcast from Washington, DC, on Tuesday, April 28, 2015, from 9:00am to 8:00pm EDT. The nine finalists will compete for the national title the following day. Read more about Alex Hanesworth in a (pre-state-finals) article in Go Anacortes.

Poems Out Loud

St. Patrick’s Day seems an auspicious time to listen to some Irish poets reading their own words. Poems Out Loud is a good place to start. Listen to Seamus Heaney, Eavan Boland, Paul Muldoon and others poets — Irish and otherwise — as they share their work aloud.

talking about poetry…

February 21, 2015


Peter Messinger is on the faculty of the University of Washington English Language Program and has been teaching English as a Second Language for 35 years. Also a poet, he was one of the readers at SpeakEasy 15: Poems and Prayers for the New Year. In an email, he shared this “experience I had with my pronunciation class today” (presented here with his permission):

To establish pausing and rhythm, I’ve been having them prepare and read “Occupation,” which you’ll remember I read at SpeakEasy a few weeks back. I didn’t tell them who wrote it and they really did it justice (we recorded them).

After they read it, I had them tell me what they thought it meant; 7 people had 7 different interpretations, all of which showed me they were really listening to themselves. One Saudi man got it dead on and connected it to what’s happening to his generation in the Middle East, and a Chinese man connected it to Hitler. A Thai woman was convinced it was about parents talking to their children. Korean students said it had to do with cultural imperialism (they told me a story about how their generation is the one I was describing as the victims of “propaganda” — their term).

Then they said I had to read it, which I did. Finally someone asked who had written it and I confessed. They were blown away and spontaneously started applauding. Anyway, on the way out they thanked me for letting them read my poem aloud. I thanked them for being an audience and holding up the mirror for me.

It was just one of those unexpected successes we get surprised by. A teaching moment, is what we call it in the business.

Thank you, Peter. A poem speaks in many languages.

Mayors, are you listening?

February 13, 2015

The Mayor's Poetry City Challenge

Perhaps it’s time to take a page from the play book of Calgary (Alberta, Canada) Mayor Naheed Nenshi. According to the City of Calgary website, Mayor Nenshi is sending letters “to Mayors across Canada from Nenshi issuing the challenge: to have a local poet read a poem at the start of a Council meeting in March or April. The aim is to raise awareness and to celebrate poetry, writing, small presses and the contribution of poets and all writers to the rich cultural life in our country.”

This is the third year for the Mayor’s City Poetry Challenge in Canada. Isn’t it about time U.S. mayors stepped up to honor poets and poetry as well?
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