The PLC [Poetry and Literature Center] has a unique position in the poetry landscape because it isn’t part of the academy, but it works with scholars and critics; it doesn’t publish poetry, but it does disseminate poetry; and it does organize readings and lectures, but with a more global focus than most literary organizations have. Because of its position within the larger institution of the Library of Congress, it is part of an enterprise of highlighting and preserving American culture. It is a bit hard to categorize the inner-workings of the PLC, but in reviewing just a sliver of what the PLC does for poetry over the course of this month, it is clear that it works hard to communicate across the gulfs that factionalize American poetry’s supporters, and works to make poetry more accessible to a national and international audience.
[Our emphasis] One of the best examples of the dynamic role of the PLC is its long-running project, the Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature (ARPL). In honor of National Poetry Month, the PLC has digitized and uploaded 50 new recordings to its online archive. Among these are recordings by Poets Laureate Daniel Hoffman, Philip Levine, Rita Dove, Maxine Kumin, Josephine Jacobsen, William Stafford, Anthony Hecht, Robert Pinsky, and Gwendolyn Brooks.
Conceived of in 1940 and kicked off in 1941 with a lecture by Robinson Jeffers titled “The Poet in a Democracy,” the archive began as a national culture-building project in response to the pressures of World War II—in particular, to the rise of European fascist rhetoric. The hope was to capture the voices of an elite class of poets and then make that elite content democratic by increasing access to it through dissemination of the recordings. The underlying message was that American literature could spread as far as fascist propaganda, but even more effectively.
LC’s “Archive of Recorded Poetry and Literature” Adds 50 New Online Recordings
Filed by April 11, 2017on