October 25, 2011
Recordings of famous poets and troublemakers
by Melville House
If you’re in New York and for some ungodly reason find yourself in midtown, you might want to swing by The Rodgers and Hammerstein Archives of Recorded Sound on the Third Floor of the New York Public Library. It is here that you can find approximately a half a million recordings from renown authors, poets, and policymakers. If you don’t have the time to travel to the library and while away a few hours, then you can listen to the clips below from a few writers of note. We have poets, dramatists, and raging alcoholics in our list, so get ready to hear a range of voices.
F. Scott Fitzgerald reads Keats, Masefield, and Shakespeare here. These were taken in 1940 (found on the University of South Carolina’s website).
Tennessee Williams reads “Arctic Light” for you, just for you.
Czeslaw Milosz reading “And the City Stood in its Brightness” was captured on tape in 1974. The Nobel Prize-winning poet has an endearingly thick, rolling accent that we can’t help but love.
Anaïs Nin reads from “Under a Glass Bell”, the 1944 story collection that received serious press (see: Edmund Wilson‘s review in The New Yorker here).
A recording of Jack Kerouac and Steve Allen (founder of the Tonight Show) reading “Mexico City blues”, which starts at about 1:13:07 — so don’t blame us if all you hear in the beginning is music. After all, the music in question is by Thelonius Monk, Dizzy Gillespie, and Charlie Parker, so you really have no reason to complain.