This first audio edition of Poetry in Person: 25 Years of Conversation with America’s Poets (Knopf, 2010), invites listeners into an intimate classroom with eight acclaimed poets: Robert Pinsky, James Merrill, Lucille Clifton, Edward Hirsch, Paul Muldoon, Muriel Rukeyser, Eamon Grennan, and William Matthews. Full of compelling, in-depth conversation about manuscripts and drafts by the poets themselves, plus readings of the finished poems, these historic recordings offer one of the most detailed portraits ever produced of how poems are actually made.
Based on “one of the ten best nonfiction books of 2010”, this audio version of Poetry in Person opens the door to a class run by Pearl London between 1973 and 1998, at the New School in Manhattan’s Greenwich Village. London invited scores of poets to bring with them “notes jotted down on the back of an envelope, or worksheets of any sort, even doodles,” for a course she said was concerned “essentially with the making of the poem, with the work in progress as process - with both the vision and the revision.”
Poets accepted her invitation one after another, word of mouth spread, and for 25 years her class become home for Nobel Laureates, National Book Award and Pulitzer Prize winners, U.S. Poets Laureate, and dozens of poets at the cusp of their emergence in letters.
After London died in 2003, three boxes of cassette tapes were discovered in a closet in her home, containing recordings of a hundred conversations with poets. Eight of those conversations can now be heard as they happened in this first audio edition of Poetry in Person. Audio Production: Jonathan Binzen.
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Through a glass darkly
The glimpse into the view of these poets is worth it.
The quality is poor and requires a determination to listen to a conversation in another room.
It felt intimate, voyeuristic.
Listening, straining through the poor quality is a pilgrimage fit only for a pilgrim willing to suffer for understanding.