While I was bar tending the other night, a man (buzzed strong to medium strong) wanted to talk poetry with me. He was the only patron left and it was after midnight. I really had no interest. I heard the all to familiar story when someone finds out you are a writer. The man claims he was sitting on two novels and copious pages of poems, but didn't understand the poetry world. Okay, I am rambling now--back to your ears and poetry. He brought up Shakespeare like a gun in his pocket and asked me have I read The Sonnets. After I said yes, he asked me if I read them out loud. And the truth is, only some. He then proceeded to mock the idea of a poet not reading The Sonnets out loud. I served him his last call and hurried him out the door. I was tired and ready to go home.
What I didn't tell him was that, for me, the auditory experience is extremely important. I know that sounds like a "duh" moment, but one of my most memorable experiences with poetry was skateboarding around town while listening to Ted Berrigan's Sonnets on my Ipod. There was a blurring of private and performance. Modern technology has aloud us to capture poetry readings for private consumption later. It is interesting when listening to these performances. These were moments, tiny instances of time--these are not moments to be scrutinized. This is their reading, for us.
From those readings we are privileged to hear the breath and pacing of the poet. Like a young guitar player listening to Jimi Hendrix or Wes Montgomery trying to learn their phrasing (sure the notes are played easy, but the breath and phrasing--that is were the soul is), by listening to these poetry read, we can learn there breath and sing there songs.
Anyway, many of us never are able to watch or hear the poets that we love. I thought I would share a few links of places to download readings (and lectures) in there entirety.
Naropa Poetics Audio Archives: This is a great place to find complete lectures, as well as readings that feature many poets reading collaboratively.
One of my favorite places that I frequent all the time is Penn Sound. The authors are listed by index, and each pages usually has multiply readings. Some of my favorites here are Ted Berrigan. My favorite poem of his is Sonnet II. Another favorite that I have enjoyed getting to hear is Joe Brainard. There is also a great Yusef Komunyakaa.
So again, do your ears a favor and listen to poetry.
If you know of any websites that have audio links to poetry, please post them in the comments.