Back Listen: “The Republic of Verse” now open to all who will hear

As many readers of this blog are undoubtedly aware, April isn’t just the cruelest month—it’s also National Poetry Month, the annual event that brings together poets, publishers, libraries, schools, and booksellers in a celebration of the literary form and its place in our culture.

American Poetry:
The Nineteenth Century

(boxed set)
Library of America brings a little something extra to National Poetry Month this year. First, we’ve just republished our two-volume anthology American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century, edited by the late John Hollander (1929–2013) and originally issued in 1993. Now available as a deluxe boxed set, American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century is still the most comprehensive collection of its kind available: a sweeping panorama that includes both recognized major figures (Dickinson and Whitman, for instance) alongside a host of lesser-known and undervalued writers as well as generous selections of Native American poetry in nineteenth-century forms, folk songs, spirituals, and hymns.

As a complement to the reissued anthology, we’re also pleased to offer the complete audio of “The Republic of Verse,” the five-hour poetry reading marathon Library of America held at the 92nd St. Y in New York City on October 21, 1993, to commemorate the set’s publication. In these recordings a stellar roster of American poets, critics, and educators—including Susan Howe, J. D. McClatchy, James Merrill, N. Scott Momaday, Marilyn Nelson, Cynthia Ozick, Robert Pinsky, and Ed Sanders—give voice to the full beauty and diversity of the poetic tradition in the United States. Highlights are too many to list here, but listeners should be on the alert for Stanley Crouch’s recital of “Casey at the Bat” by Ernest Lawrence Thayer and James Merrill reading Poe’s “Annabel Lee,” to name just two standout moments. (Each of the poems read is included in American Poetry: The Nineteenth Century.)

All five segments of the October 1993 marathon are embedded below, accompanied by a listing of each segment’s themes and its related print program (available as a downloadable PDF). In addition, Library of America will release, via Twitter, readings of individual poems on every weekday of National Poetry Month.

All audio files are released under a Creative Commons license.
Explore Library of America’s complete archive of audio recordings on Soundcloud.


PART ONE (57:32)
The Early YearsNative Landscape, Earthly ParadiseThe Indian as Poetic SymbolAmerican Indian PoetryPatriotism

Readers include: Harold Bloom, Rachel Hadas, John Hollander, Thylias Moss, Robert Pinsky, Roberta Hill Whiteman
Download the program (PDF)

PART TWO (1 hr., 37 min.)
New England PoetsHenry Wadsworth LongfellowRalph Waldo EmersonTranscendentalismThe Southern SchoolWalt Whitman

Readers include: Anthony Hecht, Daniel Hoffman, Maureen Howard, X. J. Kennedy, James Merrill, Geoffrey O’Brien, Cynthia Ozick, Max Rudin
Download the program (PDF)

PART THREE (1 hr., 4 min.)
PortentsThe WarThe AftermathEmily Dickinson  

Readers include: Garrison Keillor, Allan Gurganus, Michael Harper, Susan Howe, J. D. McClatchy, James Merrill, Marilyn Nelson
Download the program (PDF)

PART FOUR (1 hr., 3 min.)
Humor and Dialect IAfrican American Poets: Whitman and DunbarThe Old HomeModern Lyricism: The Inward TurnSolitaries: Tuckerman and Melville • Humor and Dialect II

Readers include: Roy Blount, Allan Gurganus, John Hollander, N. Scott Momaday, Thylias Moss, Calvin Trillin
Download the program (PDF)

PART FIVE (1 hr., 13 min.)
Folksongs and Popular RhymesPolitical VisionsFin-de-Siècle Pessimists, Orientalists, and Aesthetes * Harbingers of Modernism: Crane, Robinson, StickneyAmerican Indian Poetry II

Readers include: Stanley Crouch, John Hollander, Ann Lauterbach, N. Scott Momaday, Ed Sanders, Karl Kirchwey
Download the program (PDF)


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