The 10 Best Poetry Podcasts: If you’ve ever attended a spoken word poetry event, you know the power of poetry. Listening to a poet performing their work is an experience unlike any other – it’s emotional, hopeful, and relatable. As Jorge Luis Borges once said, “Truly fine poetry must be read aloud. A good poem does not allow itself to be read in a low voice or silently.” In other words, just as pain demands to be felt*, poetry demands to be heard.
Fortunately, there are plenty of poetry podcasts available that allow us to immerse ourselves in this art form on a daily basis. From classic poets to emerging voices, these podcasts provide a space for listeners to engage with the beauty and complexity of poetry. Whether you’re looking for inspiration, entertainment, or just a moment of reflection, there is a poetry podcast out there for you.
In this article, we’ve compiled a list of the ten best poetry podcasts that you should add to your list right now. These podcasts are expansive and innovative and are sure to get you more interested in one of the oldest forms of literature, poetry. Let’s dive in!
Looking for a daily dose of poetry to add to your routine? Look no further than The Slowdown, a podcast that serves a new take on the genre. Created and produced entirely by women, and primarily people of color, this podcast delivers a unique perspective that departs from the Western canon and showcases contemporary poets.
With hosts like Tracy K. Smith, Ada Limón, and Major Jackson, The Slowdown provides a brief yet profound moment of reflection every weekday. Each episode rarely exceeds five minutes, making it a perfect addition to your morning coffee routine or evening wind-down.
The podcast offers a thoughtful introduction to each poem, and the host’s steady voice leads the listener through the interpretation of each piece. The show’s soundtrack, combined with the gentle tone, offers a soothing backdrop to the sometimes challenging content of the poems.
With over 700 episodes to choose from, The Slowdown is a valuable resource for anyone looking to broaden their understanding of poetry. And with its variety of guest hosts, the show offers a diverse range of perspectives and styles.
In short, The Slowdown is an innovative and refreshing take on poetry, and its brevity makes it a perfect addition to anyone’s daily routine. So join Major Jackson and the rest of the team for a daily moment of inspiration, learning, and reflection through poetry.
If you’re looking for a podcast that explores the world of poetry in a unique and intimate way, Commonplace is a must-listen. Hosted by Rachel Zucker, the show dives deep into the non-literary forms of knowledge that are vital to an artist’s life and work. In each episode, Rachel sits down with poets and artists to discuss the recipes, advice, lists, anecdotes, quotes, politics, phobias, and spiritual practices that inform their creative process.
But Commonplace is more than just a show about poetry. Electric Literature notes that in this podcast, the listener experiences the “pleasure of eavesdropping” on small, everyday things that unexpectedly make for intriguing connections. Rachel’s conversational style is meandering and unrushed, allowing her guests to explore the everyday minutiae that often go overlooked in discussions of the creative arts.
From the daily routines of successful artists to their favorite recipes, Commonplace offers a glimpse into the ordinary lives that underpin extraordinary work. With guests like Sheila Heti, Morgan Parker, and John Keene, the show covers a wide range of subjects, including politics, identity, and the writing process.
If you’re a fan of poetry or love a good conversation, Commonplace is a podcast you won’t want to miss. Rachel’s thoughtful and engaging interviews will leave you feeling like you’ve been privy to some of the most intimate conversations in the creative arts.
Interesting People Reading Poetry
Interesting People Reading Poetry is a podcast that delivers a unique experience for poetry enthusiasts. Created by Brendan and Andy Stermer, each episode features an individual who is not necessarily famous but a force in their field, reading and sharing their favorite poem. What sets this podcast apart is the addition of soundscapes and atmospheric compositions that elevate the experience of listening to each poem.
The podcast’s short length (9 to 15 minutes) makes it easy to binge-listen and allows the listeners to experience poetry on several levels of enjoyment. Each episode begins with the famous poet William Carlos Williams’ famous saying, “If it ain’t pleasure, it ain’t a poem,” and delivers on that promise by offering a pleasurable listening experience.
The podcast’s thoughtful guests are a masterstroke, adding a personal touch to the reading and sharing why the poem they chose touched them profoundly. The poem is read twice, once as an introduction and again after the guest’s monologue, giving the poem a second life and adding new meanings and pleasures.
The show’s co-producer, Andy Stermer, creates original scores for each episode that enhance the listening experience and linger in the ear long after an episode has concluded. Interesting People Reading Poetry is an excellent choice for poetry lovers seeking a short but rich listening experience.
The New Yorker: Poetry
The New Yorker: Poetry podcast, hosted by the magazine’s poetry editor, Kevin Young, offers a unique perspective on the publication’s storied archives. In each episode, Young is joined by a contemporary poet who reads and discusses a poem selected from the magazine’s collection.
What’s fascinating is that each guest brings a new perspective, making the archive infinite, and the conversations that ensue are engaging and insightful. Following the discussion, the guest reads one of their own poems published in the magazine.
The New Yorker: Poetry podcast effectively links modern themes to the past, featuring top-class guests and interviews. Young’s interview style helps tie contemporary poetics with the art form’s legacy, maintaining the unique atmosphere of New York City’s literary scene despite its limited focus on poetry from a single editorially-slanted venue.
The monthly episodes are roughly 30 minutes long, and recent episodes have included Erica Jong reading John Updike and Tom Sleigh reading Seamus Heaney. If you’re a poetry lover or interested in the intersection of contemporary and classic literature, The New Yorker: Poetry podcast is a must-listen.
If you’re looking for a podcast to help you delve into contemporary poetry and the ideas that drive poets, look no further than VS, presented by The Poetry Foundation. Hosted by poets Danez Smith and Franny Choi, VS takes a unique approach by inviting poets to discuss ideas that move them, both in real life and on the page. This results in unexpected and energetic conversations that are both interesting and insightful.
The bi-weekly series has featured notable guests such as Morgan Parker, Aimee Nezhukumatathil, and Hanif Abdurraqib, among others. Produced by Cin Pim/Ombie Productions and presented by the Poetry Foundation, the podcast provides a platform for poets to discuss their craft and the inspirations that fuel it.
On the episode “Jos Charles Vs. Younger Jos,” Brittany and Ajanae interview Jos Charles, and the conversation covers topics from finding beauty and healing and revisiting younger versions of ourselves to the ways how neurodivergence shapes writing practices. There’s even a surprise pop-in from Jos’ cat, Faye!
Overall, VS is a podcast that will appeal to those interested in contemporary poetry and the ideas behind it. The energetic conversations between the hosts and guests make for an engaging listening experience that is both thought-provoking and entertaining.
For those looking to rekindle their love for poetry, Poem Talk is the perfect podcast to dive into. Hosted by Al Filreis, the faculty director of the Kelly Writers House, this roundtable discussion is a production of The Poetry Foundation, with guests who are impressively qualified with awards and residencies. Unlike other poetry podcasts, Poem Talk doesn’t focus on social media followings or proximity to large cities. Instead, the guests’ credentials bring a soft and assured tone to the discussion, bolstering the show’s sincerity.
In each episode, the roundtable focuses on a single poem, covering celebrated classics and forgotten pieces, from Emily Dickinson and Walt Whitman to Kathy Acker and Mei-mei Berssenbrugge. The discussions are lively and intellectually engaging, yet Filreis anchors the conversation with warmth and sincerity, steering the show away from the potential alienation that often surrounds poetry discussions. Listeners will appreciate the nuanced way in which language and metaphor are explored, adding genuine value to the poems discussed.
While the show’s intention may not be to encourage listeners to apply to literature grad programs, it may just be an accidental consequence. For those who miss the intellectualism and camaraderie of university seminars, Poem Talk will transport you back in time. The podcast offers a refreshing perspective on poetry and rekindles a curiosity that may have been lost since college.
Poetry Magazine Podcast
The Poetry Magazine Podcast, produced by the Poetry Foundation, is a must-listen for anyone interested in contemporary poetry. Hosted by the magazine’s editor, Don Share, the show features readings and discussions of the latest poetry from established and emerging poets alike. Each episode delves into a particular theme or topic, with a diverse range of voices and styles represented.
One standout episode features a reading and discussion of “The Tradition,” a poem by Jericho Brown that explores themes of masculinity, race, and violence. Share and guest commentator Carmen Giménez Smith offers insightful interpretations and contextualizations of Brown’s work, bringing new layers of meaning to an already powerful poem.
In one episode, award-winning poet and translator Forrest Gander discusses his translation of the Mexican poet Pura López Colomé’s work. Gander’s passion for the art of translation shines through in his thoughtful commentary, and his insights into López Colomé’s work are fascinating. The show also includes interviews with poets, giving listeners a glimpse into their creative processes and inspirations.
Overall, The Poetry Magazine Podcast is a well-produced and engaging exploration of contemporary poetry. Whether you have always loved poetry or are a new lover of this literary form, this podcast will surely offer insights and perspectives that will deepen your appreciation of the art.
Poetry off the shelf
If you’re a poetry lover looking to explore the dynamic world of contemporary poetry, look no further than Poetry off the Shelf, a podcast produced by the Poetry Foundation. Host and producer Helena de Groot invite poets to talk about language, dreams, love and loss, identity, connection, anger, discomfort, the creative process, the state of the world and the world of the soul. Despite the deeper explorations, the tone of the podcast never gets too serious. Each episode ranges from 20 to 60 minutes and features poetry readings, interviews, reviews, and engaging discussions that introduce listeners to a new breed of poets.
As the mind behind the Paris Review’s podcast, de Groot has perfected the format of Poetry Off the Shelf. Since 2017, she has hosted the show and imbues a sense of mystery into each episode, combining interviews and anthology reviews with “poetry documentaries.” The podcast’s astute and intellectual tone is balanced with a lightheartedness that makes it accessible to poetry lovers of all levels. The niche episodes are also worth mentioning, including episodes featuring poems that are like prose and poems that you can touch. Poetry off the Shelf is a must-listen for anyone who loves contemporary poetry or is simply looking to explore it for the first time. De Groot’s show is an example of this genre done right, a poetry podcast where everything is important but never taken too seriously.
A Mouthful Of Air
A Mouthful of Air is a must-listen podcast for anyone interested in poetry. Hosted by poet Mark McGuinness, this podcast is like attending a college lecture on classic poetry with a fresh and contemporary perspective. McGuinness contextualizes and analyzes classic poems with rigor and dynamism, making even the most difficult pieces accessible to all. He is also a natural reader with an articulate and engaging voice, bringing the poems to life in a way that few others can. In addition to classic poetry, the podcast also features contemporary poets who read from their own work and discuss their inspiration and writing process.
It’s hard to believe that this incredible podcast is available for free. McGuinness’s analysis of Geoffrey Chaucer’s “Troilus and Criseyde” is a standout example of his expertise and passion for poetry. The discussions on A Mouthful of Air never feel flat or impenetrable. Instead, the podcast brings the words on the page to life, making poetry accessible and exciting for listeners.
Overall, A Mouthful of Air is a must-listen for poetry lovers. With its combination of classic and contemporary poetry, along with McGuinness’s insightful analysis, this podcast is both entertaining and educational. Whether you’re a seasoned poetry aficionado or just starting to explore the world of poetry, A Mouthful of Air is a great resource for discovering new poems and gaining a deeper appreciation for the art form.
The Poetry Exchange
The Poetry Exchange is an award-winning British podcast that explores the relationship between poetry and the human experience. Each episode features guests from all walks of life sharing their favorite poems and discussing the ways in which these poems have become like dear friends to them. The podcast treats poetry not as an abstract concept but as a living, breathing friend that can provide solace, inspiration, and guidance in times of need.
What sets The Poetry Exchange apart is its authenticity and sincerity. The conversations are organic and flow naturally, with the featured poem serving as a catalyst for meaningful exchanges between guests and hosts. The podcast is also expertly produced, with bespoke recordings of each poem created as “gifts” for the guests.
Episodes of The Poetry Exchange offer a beautiful mix of poetry and conversation, resulting in a deeply personal and insightful exploration of the human experience. Listeners will find themselves moved and inspired by the conversations and the poems that are shared.
Overall, The Poetry Exchange is a must-listen for anyone who loves poetry or who wants to discover the transformative power of words. It’s no wonder the podcast has won the silver award for Most Original Podcast at the British Podcast Awards 2018. Tune in to discover the poetry that has touched the lives of so many.
As the famous quote by Robin Williams from Dead Poets Society reminds us, poetry is not just a cute hobby or an academic exercise but a vital part of what makes us human. It is through poetry that we can connect with our deepest emotions and experience the beauty and complexity of life in all its forms.
Podcasts are a wonderful way to discover new poets and new perspectives on poetry. They offer a space to explore the meaning and impact of poems in our lives and help connect with others who share our love of this art form.
But poetry is not just for poets or academics. It is for everyone, regardless of their background or education. Poetry can be a source of solace and comfort in difficult times, a way to express our feelings and connect with others, and a source of inspiration and beauty that uplifts us and gives us hope.
So, my passionate conclusion is this: let us all make a commitment to inculcate poetry into our daily lives, whether through reading, writing, or listening to poetry podcasts like The Poetry Exchange. Let us embrace the power and beauty of this art form and use it to enrich our lives and the lives of those around us. As Robin Williams said, “Poetry, beauty, romance, love, these are what we stay alive for.” So let us embrace them with open hearts and open minds, and let the clarity and beauty of poetry guide us on our journey through life.
*pain demands to be felt: From The Fault in our Stars