Review; Romantic Circle’s “Poets on Poets”

by graysonhoward

“Poets on Poets” is a complementary page to the highly praised scholarly website Romantic Circles. The blog is monitored by editors Tilar Mazzeo and Doug Guerra, who are affiliated with their parent website, published by the University of Maryland. The blog is also available as an iTunes podcast consisting of 144 poems. The project aims to connect contemporary poetry with that of the Romantic period, accomplishing the task in a unique way. The audio archive contains downloadable mp3 files consisting of modern poets reading some of their favorite poems from the age of the Romantics. The posts not only answer the question about what contemporary writers are reading from this period but how, “The Poets on Poets project is an audio archive that testifies to the continued importance of Romanticism in the contemporary poetry world.  The premise of the collection is simple: we have asked practicing poets from around the world to read a Romantic-period poem that they particularly admire and that has influenced the way in which they think about their craft.”

Along with the recording is text which might mirror that of the original author’s version or might not. The depth of analysis available thus becomes not only questioning why these modern writers chose what poems they read, but also questioning why they might have chose the particular stanza or stanzas to focus on. As a result, readers not only see what writers are still being inspired by, but the intricacies that go along when someone converts a poem into spoken verse, making it into more of a presentation than simply lines on a page. The resource is for anyone, including scholars or just casual fans of poetry. The site is fully functional but seems to have slowed down considerably in the past few years. What I have found to be really cool and interesting is the ability to assemble many of my favorite poems into a playlist on iTunes in which I can listen to whenever  I like.  All of the poems are accessible to the public without any type of subscription fee, making it a great resource for English teachers who want their students to not only see the lasting effects that Romanticism has had on the present day, but to actually hear it as well. Without this resource it would be somewhat difficult to ask contemporary poets who they currently read from this particular canon, something that I personally have thought much about. Many of the poems we have read for class are available in the archive making it readily apparent that the authors we currently enjoy are also alive and well to countless others in the 21st century.

Some of my favorite posts are John Casteen reading “Lines Composed a Few Miles above Tintern Abbey” by William Wordsworth,  and V. Penelope Pelizzon reading from William Blake’s “The Marriage of Heaven and Hell”.  The preface to the site by Jerome McGann is all about recitation as fine art, and uses quotes from authors we have studied in class, including one from Shelley that I particularly find to be insightful; that poetry “redeems from decay the visitations of the divinity in man,” and “Poets on Poets” surely aids in this resurrection as well.

-gH

(One addition in light of our current reading)

After reading “When I Have Fears” again and remembering how much I love it…

http://www.rc.umd.edu/editions/poets/mp3/mcnair_when.mp3

http://www.rc.umd.edu/editions/poets/mp3/salerno_when.mp3
(^this one is amazing)

http://www.rc.umd.edu/editions/poets/mp3/shankar_when.mp3

-gH