April 14, 2015 Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature to Launch Online April 15

Press Contact: Donna Urschel (202) 707-1639
Public Contact: Robert Casper (202) 707-5394
Website: Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature

In celebration of National Poetry Month, the Library of Congress on April 15 will place online a selection of recordings from its Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature, a series of audio recordings of renowned poets and prose writers reading from their work.

Available as streamed audio, the archive will launch online with 50 recordings. Additional material from the collection will be added on a monthly basis. It will be available at www.loc.gov/poetry/recorded-poetry/.

“I am thrilled to have this rich collection of literary voices, from the Library’s nearly 75 years of recordings, available to all,” said Robert Casper, head of the Library’s Poetry and Literature Center.

Highlights from the launch include:

  • Robert Frost interviewed by fellow Library Consultant in Poetry Randall Jarrell in 1959;
  • Gwendolyn Brooks giving her opening reading as the last Consultant in Poetry (the position succeeded by Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry) in 1985;
  • Kurt Vonnegut giving a lecture in the Library’s historic Coolidge Auditorium in 1971;
  • The Academy of American Poets’ 35th-anniversary program in 1969, featuring readings by Elizabeth Bishop, Robert Lowell, Allen Tate, and others;
  • Nobel Laureate Czeslaw Milosz reading with Paul Muldoon in 1991.

The Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature at the Library of Congress has material dating back to 1943, when Allen Tate was Consultant in Poetry. It contains nearly 2,000 recordings of poets and prose writers participating in literary events at the Library, as well as sessions at the Library’s recording studio in the Jefferson Building. Most of these recordings were captured on magnetic tape reels, and have only been accessible by visiting the Library in person. In digitizing the archive and presenting it online, the Library hopes to greatly broaden its use and value.

The Library of Congress Poetry and Literature Center fosters and enhances the public's appreciation of literature. To this end, the center administers the endowed Poet Laureate Consultant in Poetry position, coordinates an annual season of readings, performances, lectures, conferences, and symposia, and sponsors prizes and fellowships for literary writers. For more information, visit www.loc.gov/poetry/.

The Library of Congress, the nation’s oldest federal cultural institution and the largest library in the world, holds more than 160 million items in various languages, disciplines and formats. The Library serves the U.S. Congress and the nation both on-site in its reading rooms on Capitol Hill and through its award-winning website at www.loc.gov.


PR 15-064
ISSN 0731-3527