If you have graduated from school, or simply lack people in your life to share ideas about writing, literature, and poetry, listening to a podcast can feel like a warm hug of validation and acceptance. They are inspirational and informative and just good entertainment.
With interview series, we gain insight into the lives of our favorite writers and learn their process. Reading style podcasts allow us to discover new poetry or revisit old favorites. And the best part is, you don’t have to carve out too much space in your day to listen. Listen in the car, on the train, on a walk, while you clean or even while you write.
With so many podcasts to choose from, here are six expansive and innovative poetry centered podcasts to brighten up your day and keep the poetry spark within you alive and thriving.
Commonplace is a series of intimate interviews with poets and artists, conversations focusing on the recipes, advice, lists, anecdotes, quotes, politics, phobias, spiritual practices, and other non-Literary forms of knowledge that are vital to an artist’s life and work.
“One feels, when listening to Commonplace, the pleasure of eavesdropping on the kind of unexpected, intriguing connections that only happen when interesting people sit together in a small room and talk about their real concerns and ordinary lives.”
Hosted by Rachel Zucker, the author of ten books of poetry and memoir, Commonplace explores poetry in a way that feels both contemporary and diverse.
Created by brothers Brendan and Andy Stermer, Interesting People Reading Poetry opens each show with William Carlos Williams motto, “If it ain’t pleasure, it ain’t a poem.”
The show interviews an individual, not famous in the conventional sense, but a force in their field, such as a composer, historian, writer, or even DJ and asks them to read whatever poem has had the largest and longest-felt effect on their life.
These short, yet rich episodes aim to allow listeners to experience poetry on multiple levels of enjoyment by adding soundscapes and atmospheric compositions to each reading. What also sets this podcast apart from others is that after the guest reads the poem of their choosing and gives an explanation of the reasons why it touched them so profoundly, the poem is read again, not only giving the poem a second life but also a new meaning attached to it. It’s a poetry lover’s dream.
On The New Yorker’s poetry podcast, Kevin Young is joined by contemporary poets who read and then discuss a poem that they have selected from the magazine’s storied archives. After discussing the influence of the poem, each guest then reads one of their own, which has also been published in the magazine. Guests have included Ariel Francisco, Deborah Landau, Tracy K. Smith, Shane McCraw, Vijay Seshadri and any more.
Every weekday, poet laureate Tracy K. Smith delivers a different way to see the world – through poetry. Created and produced by a team that is comprised entirely of women and mostly people of color, the podcast’s perspective departs from the Western canon and features more contemporary poets. These brief but concise episodes provide a kind of mediation as Smith both reads and breaks down each poem with her steady voice and powerful interpretations. Electric Literature calls The Slowdown, “a once-a-day multivitamin.”
If contemporary poetry is more your thing, VS, presented by The Poetry Foundation is the podcast for you. Straying away from the traditional interview podcast, VS invites poets to confront the ideas that move them, both in real life and on the page.
Hosted by Danez Smith and Franny Choi, this interesting and insightful format prompts unexpected and energetic conversations. Morgan Parker, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Hanif Abdurraqib are just a few of the noteworthy guests featured on this bi-weekly series.
Another podcast presented by The Poetry Foundation, Poem Talk is a roundtable discussion of a single poem. Hosted by the faculty director of the Kelly Writers House, Al Filreis, the poets featured on the show are varied yet canonical, from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to Kathy Acker and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge. These lively discussions cover celebrated classics and forgotten pieces and aim to rekindle a curiosity around poetry that the listener may have let go of since leaving college. If you wish to be transported back to grad school or a university seminar, this is the podcast for you.