person listening to an audiobook

Benefits of Listening to Poetry Audiobooks

The first poems were songs. Poetry began as an oral tradition used to pass down stories and wisdom through generations. It’s no wonder, then, that modern poetry still relies strongly on musicality, rhythm, and intonation. If you’re not listening to poetry spoken out loud—whether that’s via audiobooks, podcasts, or in-person at a local poetry slam—it can be easy to miss out on these musical elements that are so central to the craft. To celebrate this form, we’ve curated a list of the benefits of listening to poetry instead of just reading it on the page. 


The 4 biggest benefits of listening to audio poetry


1. Nuance and understanding

Many poetry techniques, such as rhyme and meter, are used to imply subtle nuances and imbue deeper meaning into the poem. In some cases, you might only be able to pick up on these sound-based techniques by listening to the poem. 

For example, some spoken word poets read quickly to create an anxious effect, as Sabrina Benaim does in her poem, “Explaining My Depression to My Mother.” Other poets might read very slowly to convey calm. In either case, listening to the poem out loud can help you pick up on these sounds and their effects more easily than if you were reading the words in your head, the oral performance allowing for a deeper understanding of the poem’s message.


2. Accessibility and convenience

Poetry is for everyone. Even though poetry is a part of the literary community, literacy is not a prerequisite for enjoying it. With poetry audiobooks, poetry becomes accessible to people of all reading levels and abilities. 

People with visual impairments, reading challenges, or other barriers that prevent them from being able to enjoy poetry on paper can still read and write poetry. Take the blind poet Fanny Crosby, for example, or Philip Schultz, a poet with dyslexia and 2008 Pulitzer Prize winner who describes his reading challenges: “[My tutor] worked with me to try to teach me how to read, without any success at all. And one day out of frustration asked me what I thought I was going to do in life if I couldn’t read. And surprising both of us, I said I wanted to be a writer. And he laughed.”

Whether you struggle to read poems on paper or simply have a preference for podcasts on the go, audio-based poetry is the perfect alternative.


3. Easier memorization

Memorizing a poem requires close attention and deep engagement with the poem’s techniques and messages, which is good for boosting both your cognitive power and your self-esteem. It also helps you master performative poetry like spoken word, which can be a key to getting your foot in the door as a professional writer. Plus, when you learn a poem by heart, you’ll always be prepared with a unique party trick or for any impromptu poetry readings you might run into. 

There are many approaches you can take to memorizing your favorite poems—copying them down by hand, using visual mnemonics for each line, rote learning by repetition—but for auditory learners, listening to poetry on podcasts or audiobooks can be one of the most effective memorization techniques.


4. Meditation and relaxation

If you ever fell asleep while your parents read you bedtime nursery rhymes as a kid, then you already know how relaxing listening to poetry can be. 

With smooth rhythm and cadences, vivid imagery, and emotional resonance, audio poetry can capture your whole focus and imagination, guiding you into a meditative state. Ultimately, this practice can help you wind down and improve your mental well-being.

That’s probably why poetry reading has become such a common theme in the ASMR community; a simple search for “ASMR poetry” on YouTube yields hundreds of videos from ASMR creators reciting poems to help viewers de-stress.


Where to find and listen to audio poetry readings 

If you’re ready to reap the benefits of listening to poetry on audio, here are a few great places to start:


Happy listening!