Looking for audio of contemporary poetry — possibly spoken by the author herself? PennSound at the University of Pennsylvania’s Center for Programs in Contemporary Writing is “an ongoing project, committed to producing new audio recordings and preserving existing audio archives.” It is an online archive of poetry audio recordings that makes tens of thousands of digital files available to the public for free. PennSound also has an internet radio station, podcasts, and videos (and a small selection of classics).
PennSound is all about making audio files that can be played universally, with all metadata intact. Its manifesto in short:
1. It must be free and downloadable.
2. It must be MP3 or better.
3. It must be singles.
4. It must be named.
5. It must embed bibliographic information in the file.
6. It must be indexed.
You can use poetry to introduce or summarize a section or topic, or to illustrate a point. For example, do you have juniors and seniors making plans for life after high school? Why not play Robert Frost’s “The Road Not Taken” and have them dissect its meaning? Thanks to Penn Sound, they can also ponder the improbable path the recording took to get to them: from aluminum platter to reel tape to digitization!