7 Sonic Audiobooks to Listen to This National Poetry Month
Happy National Poetry Month! This month is full of ways to celebrate—from checking out the most recent releases to attending virtual and in-person poetry events. Now, we’re adding one more option to your list: cueing up some of the most melodic and engrossing poetry audiobooks. Whether you’re looking for something to listen to on a long drive, wanting to add a poetic soundtrack to your meditation practice, or just striving to appreciate poetry’s sonic qualities, these seven audiobooks should be on your list to download.
Jae Nichelle got her start as a spoken word poet, an award-winning legacy that can be heard in every stanza of God Themselves. Inspired by the poet’s religious upbringing, spiritual evolution, and identity as a queer Black woman, the audiobook merges hymn-like musicality with voicey, unexpected humor. God Themselves is divided into three sections, creating an arc that aims to truly take readers on a journey. Press play on this audiobook when you’re ready for an inclusive and liberatory awakening.
Melody Godfred has inspired everyone from Oprah Winfrey to her thousands of Instagram followers. Her introspective poems pack big meaning into short stanzas, translating the lofty ideas of self-love, acceptance, and personal growth into beautiful mantras readers can remember and carry through their day. In this audiobook release, Godfred’s reassuring reading style will give readers the same feeling of listening to a voicemail from a friend. Play an excerpt to start or end your day with inspiration.
You Could Make This Place Beautiful, which takes its title from a line of Maggie Smith’s viral poem “Good Bones,” blends poetic language with autobiographical narrative. The vulnerable, lyrical memoir delves into some of the deepest and most universal themes: loss, independence, motherhood, and rebuilding one’s life. Smith chronicles the end of her marriage and the beginning of an unexpected next chapter. The hope fans have always found in her work remains a sparkling, ever-present characteristic.
Tarriona Ball is better known by her nickname “Tank” and her career as the lead vocalist of Tank and the Bangas. In Vulnerable AF, the multi-faceted artist’s poetic debut, this musical background is at the forefront as Ball reads her outspoken, honest poems. The bluesy sound Ball is known for bringing to her music also comes across in this book, with poems spanning the heights of infatuation and the lows of heartbreak.
Like many other poets on this list, Andrea Gibson got their start as a spoken word poet. They’ve performed on sold-out tours and have created poetry with a clear, unstoppable crescendo. Their poems take on the heaviest, most big-picture subject matter, including illness, life, and death, even spanning all the way out to outer space. Gibson contrasts these large themes with the smallest, most ruminatory imagery and details, showing how the extraordinary can be reflected in daily life.
Tracy K. Smith is both a poet laureate and a Pulitzer Prize winner—well-deserved honors that make all of her titles must-reads. She’s also a former host of The Slowdown poetry podcast, meaning listeners got to know her voice over multiple years and through hundreds of poems read and analyzed. Smith brings this same earnest, comforting, and clear tone to this recording of Wade in the Water, even as the book confronts dark topics like racism and war. Wade in the Water is a sprawling, deeply necessary look at the truth of U.S. history, and Smith is an unmatched teacher and guide.
Brandon Leake became the first spoken word poet to win America’s Got Talent, bringing the art form to a revered, mainstream stage. In the Unraveling audiobook, audiences will once again connect with this rousing, award-winning voice and the powerful message being spoken. Above all, Unraveling challenges listeners to look past absolutes, to embrace bittersweet experiences, and to see the nuances all around them.
Happy listening! Use these listening sessions as inspiration for your own poetry. How could reading it aloud help you observe its sound play?