May 21, 2022

Digital Humanities: Listen Online: “PennSound Transforms How Poetry is Taught the World Over”

From the U. of Pennsylvania:

PennSound, a University of Pennsylvania-based online audio poetry website, is revolutionizing the way that educators teach poetry. Since its launch ten years ago, PennSound has amassed one of the largest collections of noncommercial poetry sound files on the Internet.

The site offers more than 45,000 digital recordings of poems as song-length singles plus PennSound Radio, a 24-hour stream of readings and conversations from the PennSound poetry archive, PoemTalk podcasts, articles, reviews and recorded poetry readings and events held at Penn’s Kelly Writers House.

For K-12 teachers and college professors, PennSound has become a useful tool in the classroom. Millions of the MP3 audio files are downloaded each year.


Basic bibliographic information is encoded into each file. A user may download the MP3 and key facts about the recording, including author, title, place and date of the recording, as well as copyright information.

[Penn English Professor Charles] Bernstein says: “The scale of what we have is enormous. PennSound contains an unprecedented amount of poetry sound files. Up until PennSound there were some recordings available, but by and large, 99 percent of recordings were quite inaccessible. We made all that material available.”

PennSound features the complete recordings of William Carlos Williams, Ezra Pound and John Ashbery, and has significant collections of Gertrude Stein, Wallace Stevens, Louis Zukofsky and Anne Waldman, and includes recordings from a number of important long-running poetry reading series.

Direct to PennSound

About Gary Price

Gary Price ( is a librarian, writer, consultant, and frequent conference speaker based in the Washington D.C. metro area. Before launching INFOdocket, Price and Shirl Kennedy were the founders and senior editors at ResourceShelf and DocuTicker for 10 years. From 2006-2009 he was Director of Online Information Services at, and is currently a contributing editor at Search Engine Land.