Summer beckons for things to listen to, especially now as travel becomes more possible. I’m a big fan of listening to audiobook novels (32 hours of Middlemarch, anyone?), but I’ve recently discovered the joy of contemporary poetry audiobooks, most of which are read by the poets themselves. Listening to a poetry collection as an audiobook, even when it is read by the author, is distinctly different than listening to a recorded live reading: an audiobook is more intimate, more like the experience of reading text silently. It's just you and the poet’s voice filling a quiet space, journeying together across an hour or two.
Here are just a few ideas for ways to find and enjoy poetry audiobooks this summer and beyond:
- Start with your public library! The Pima County Public Library offers audiobooks through the Libby app. Current selections include Heid E. Erdrich’s Little Big Bully, Danez Smith’s Homie, Joy Harjo’s An American Sunrise, Barbara Kingsolver’s How to Fly (In Ten Thousand Easy Lessons), and Terrance Hayes’s American Sonnets for My Past and Future Assassin. YA novels in verse are also available, including Elizabeth Acevedo’s The Poet X and Eric Gansworth’s Apple: Skin to the Core. Many of these audiobooks have a wait time, but your future self will thank you for putting in a hold.
- If you subscribe to Audible, a good number of poetry audiobooks are available, although many still must be purchased for one credit. However, there are some contemporary gems available as part of the basic Audible Plus catalog like Maggie Nelson’s Bluets, Donald Hall reading from his collected works, and Hala Alyan’s You’re Not a Girl in a Movie.
- You can also support independent bookstores by purchasing individual audiobooks through Libro.fm, an audiobook seller that shares profits with an affiliated bookstore of your choice (such as Antigone Books in Tucson). Recent poetry titles available through Libro.fm include Ada Limón’s The Carrying and Tommy Pico’s IRL. Libro.fm also offers a membership option.
Many more options abound, including individual presses or authors who offer their work in audiobook form. Happy listening!