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March 6, 2005 4:03 AM   Subscribe

What are your favorite audio poems, books, plays, etc?
posted by mono blanco to Media & Arts (19 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
Response by poster: I’m more a reader than a listener but I’d like to try listening to excellent renditions of poems, books, or what-have-you. Can you start me off?
posted by mono blanco at 4:03 AM on March 6, 2005

Not sure if this is what you're looking for, but I'm a huge fan of a guy named Saul Williams, a slam poet who has released two albums of his poetry set to music.
posted by LouReedsSon at 4:45 AM on March 6, 2005

Response by poster: Thanks, but no, that's not what I'm looking for. More along the lines of a definitive rendition of "In Xanadu did Kublai Khan.." or "It was the best of times, it was the worst of times..." or "Whan that aprill with his shoures soote, The droghte of march hath perced to the roote" or "We were somewhere around Barstow on the edge of the desert when the drugs began to take hold..."
posted by mono blanco at 5:01 AM on March 6, 2005

General books? I really don't care much for them -- but I did listen to Derek Jacobi reading the "I, Claudius" series. Very nice. I wanted to include a link, but I don't find that (except for a UK version on ebay). In place of that is a 14 cassette version read by someone I never heard of.

I'll tell you what's more enjoyable (to me, at least) is listening to plays on tape. In particular, there was an "Old Vic" series of Shakespeare that was fantastic. It was an ideal medium to hear Gielgud declaim Hamlet. The cassette didn't care that he was far to old. Sounded just fine.
posted by RavinDave at 5:19 AM on March 6, 2005

here's a really awesome tape i had growing up: The Mist by Stephen King in 3-D sound.

"King’s chilling novella is presented in Kunstkopf binaural 3-D sound. This recording technology creates the impression that sounds and voices are coming from different directions, not merely through the headphones. This format is especially well-suited for an eerie horror tale such as this. A diverse group of people trapped in a supermarket must battle not only the hellish creatures of the mist, but also each other in a desperate attempt to survive. The performers are quite good, and the music and sound effects are excellent."
posted by pelican at 6:33 AM on March 6, 2005

Best answer: Have you looked at Laurable's site? It's got links to many audio poems, but generally poets reading their own poems.

Two of my favorites are very old recording of poets reading their own work: Tennyson reading (in 1890) "The Charge of the Light Brigade" with odd thumps in the middle, as if he was belting out the time with his heel or fist, and Browning reading (in 1988) a little of "How They Brought the Good News from Ghent to Aix" and then saying "I'm terribly sorry but I can't remember beyond that. Robert Browning."

To hear them, try here (scroll down with several interesting stops along the way) or here (click "Listen to rare recordings from literary greats") or any of several other googlable places on the net.
posted by pracowity at 7:41 AM on March 6, 2005

The BBC has two CDs called "The Spoken Word," one of poets and one of prose writers, which are both excellent.
posted by josh at 8:22 AM on March 6, 2005

Crap - I meant "Browning reading (in 1888)."

And I think the recording josh mentions has both of them and plenty of other good ones.
posted by pracowity at 8:31 AM on March 6, 2005

Ian McKellan's reading of the Robert Fagles translation of 'The Odyssey' is extremely accessible and a fun listen. My favorite of the genre.
posted by DeepFriedTwinkies at 8:40 AM on March 6, 2005

It might not be exactly what you're looking for, but listening to David Sedaris read his books (Barrel Fever and Other Stories, Me Talk Pretty One Day, and Dress Your Family in Corduroy and Denim) has made my commute to work not just bearable, but downright pleasant (most of which I downloaded from the fabulous
posted by jodic at 8:44 AM on March 6, 2005

Back in college, a friend gave me a copy of Dylan Thomas reading his own poems as well as some things by Auden and Yeats that was excellent. Apparently Harper Audio rereleased these albums on CD a few years ago- I highly recommend them.
posted by hwickline at 9:15 AM on March 6, 2005

George Guidall's performance of Gaiman's American Gods is pure brilliance. It's a long haul well-suited for trips or job commuting, though.
posted by Shane at 9:46 AM on March 6, 2005

Clive Holden, a contemporary Canadian poet, made an album with some Canadian indie rock musicians (i.e. members of The Weakerthans) where he recites his poems over music. It's called Trains Of Winnipeg, and the whole albums is available for download as mp3s.

I suggest the songs/poems "Trains of Winnipeg", "Transcona", and "Nanaimo Station" to get you started if you're interested.
posted by bitpart at 11:38 AM on March 6, 2005

The best book on tape I ever heard was Band of Brothers by Ambrose. I forget who did the reading.

I second the Screwtape Letters read by Cleese.

The BBC production of LOTR is fantastic! But make sure you get the BBC production with Ian Holm. There are some look-a-likes out there that are miserable. I am not even a fan of fantasy but this 13 hour series is amazing.
posted by vronsky at 1:46 PM on March 6, 2005

Dylan Thomas reading A Child's Christmas in Wales is amazing. One of the few examples in my opinion of poets reading their own work well.
posted by punkbitch at 3:01 PM on March 6, 2005

Speaking of Gaiman, "Two Plays for Voices" turns two stories from Smoke and Mirrors into narrator-heavy dramas.

There was a fantastic old radio series that dramatized sci-fi like "Mars is Heaven" and "The Roads Must Roll" but I can't remember its name for the life of me.
posted by NickDouglas at 3:47 PM on March 6, 2005

Response by poster: These are great suggestions, thanks, I'll be following up on almost all of the above. Particular thanks to pracowity and nicwolff. (Now if I could just find a tape of C. S. Lewis doing Monty Python , that'd be perfect!)
posted by mono blanco at 11:10 PM on March 6, 2005

The Best Poems of All time (Volumes 1 & 2) are available on Audible and iTunes. They're not my favorites, but cover a good swathe of poetry. It's a great way to get to hear some of the classics without digging around too much. The Audible Link is here.
posted by seanyboy at 4:15 AM on March 7, 2005

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