Unexpected Archives of Literary Audio


Those who like their commentary on all things literary to come in auditory formats might find that they’re living in a golden age right now. A number of high-profile literary podcasts and interview series are going strong, with others starting up with some frequency. But the abundance of storage space online and the number of cultural institutions finding space for their archives means that there’s a wealth of material just waiting to be found. Here are a few places that, until recently, I had been unaware of.

Art on Air’s collection of authors reading from 192 Books comes particularly to mind. Recent segments have included programs from the likes of Hilton Als, Rachel Cantor, and Wayne Koestenbaum. Koestenbaum also shows up to introduce The Art of Cruelty/Bluets author Maggie Nelson. It’s much as you’d expect from a bookstore that’s a stone’s throw from a host of galleries and cultural spaces: smart folks discussing topics both up-to-the-minute and arcane.

In addition to an abundance of music, the WFMU-affiliated Free Music Archive also contains its fair share of relevant literary audio, including a Nikki Giovanni reading from Clark College, and a selection of experimental audio from author/Joyland editor Brian Joseph Davis. And the 92nd Street Y maintains a large archive on Soundcloud of audio from many an event. We’re partial to a 1982 reading from Italo Calvino, ourselves.

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