August 1, 2019
British poetry publisher starts its own audiobook series
by Michael Barron
Poetry has never been a literary art meant to remain on the page. Poets are performers are heart, taking to the stage to give voice and body to their texts. While readings can be hit or miss (depending on the poet’s ability to perform, which this post won’t get into), in Britain, at least, poetry is being taken to a whole new level.
According to The Bookseller, the British Indie-press Carcanet, one of the foremost publishers of poetry in the UK, is launching an unabridged poetry audio book series. That is, a series of poets being recorded, presumably in a sound booth. reading their collections in full. No more random audience coughs white noise hisses, poetry is going hi-fi.
And this comes in thanks to Colin Still, a London-based audio archivist who runs the poetry recording site Optic Nerve, who has teamed up with Carcanet for this new series, itself part of Carcanet’s celebration of its 50 year anniversary. As a press release states:
The first title to be released is Jenny Lewis’s feminist recreation, Gilgamesh Retold, originally published as a Carcanet Classic in October 2018 and is now available as an audiobook on all major platforms, including Audible and Deezer. Forthcoming titles include Jane Draycott’s award-winning translation of the Middle English narrative poem, Pearl, and Martina Evans’ much-acclaimed poem for two voices, Now We Can Talk Openly About Men.
So prime thy audio buds and presseth the button of play.
Michael Barron is an editor at Melville House.