vocalisms is a regular feature that presents selected tracks from voca, the Poetry Center's online audio video library of more than 800 recorded readings, spanning from 1963 to today.
When you visit the voca homepage, you can find readings in a variety of different ways: by searching, by browsing through a list of readers’ names, or through the list of tags at the bottom of the page. The tags show up as word cloud, with the most frequent tags bolded and in all capital letters. Just a small sampling of tags can give you a sense of what’s available there: civil rights, the desert, madness, New York, Iraq, nostalgia, audience participation, grandmothers, baseball. The simple topics often bring up the most surprising mix of readers. For instance, “Bears” will take you to readings by Maxine Kumin, N. Scott Momaday, Richard Nelson, and Elena Passarello. In the track above, Elena Passarello gives a dramatic reading of “Sackerson,” an essay about a fighting bear who drew Shakespeare’s ire by drawing audiences away from playhouses. A trained actress as well as an essayist, Passarello reads with verve, the essay’s blank verse undertones coming through clearly.