The Street Where I Live

British by birth, New Yorker by nature.

Poets in their own words

Books & WordsAlexandra kingComment

Having always been a great lover of words and a bookworm since birth, it's often assumed by well meaning friends that I must love things like poetry slams and literary readings. And I go, I do, most gratefully. But, in truth, I sometimes find them a bit of an ordeal. 

For me, reading is an intimate, private thing, and with poems especially, there's so much in that moment of communion with the page. I want to read the words myself and wrap my eyes and heart around them. I don't like to take my poetry with an audience at my side because part of the allure for me is that in that moment, it's just for me.

Yet, there is really something so magical about hearing poems read by their authors, isn't there? Especially when they are no longer around to read us their work. Recently, I've been a little obsessed with mining the modern miracle that is ye olde inter-web for old-time poetry recordings, and now I'm sharing my five favorite finds, just for you, below.

Do you have fifteen minutes? That's all you need to watch and listen to each one of these beauties in one glorious sitting, one by one, right now. Sit down. Close your eyes. Press play. I guarantee it will be the best thing you do all day.

1) Frank O'Hara reads "Having a Coke With You".

2) Seamus Heaney reads "The Blackbird of Glanmore".

3) Ted Hughes reads "The Thought Fox".

4) Mary Oliver reads "Wild Geese".

5) Kinda cheating but just too good, Tom Waits reads Charles Bukowski's "The Laughing Heart".