PostedNovember 30, 2004
If a booming, 115-year-old recording of Lord Alfred Tennyson reading "The Charge of the Light Brigade" doesn’t satisfy you, simply scroll back up the page and give a listen to Sylvia Plath reading "Lady Lazarus," recorded by the British Council only days after she wrote the poem. While you’re at it, try Seamus Heaney’s "Bogland."
There are many treasures to be found in the books section of the BBC's website, a spot that deserves bookmarking, if only because it's a little difficult to find. The BBC's homepage provides its visitors only the smallest link into its Arts section, which then requires users to hunt through the Out Loud area, wherein lies this vault of poetic content.
Besides the readings, there are also archived clips of poets in conversation. Many of the recordings were made during BBC radio interviews, and include such exciting discussions as Dylan Thomas on his childhood memories, E. E. Cummings on what makes an artist, and Maya Angelou on how she’d like to be remembered.
Beyond the historical and archival offerings, there is also a section on the BBC's current literary radio broadcast, The Verb, Ian McMillan’s "late-night showcase of new writing, found language and hi-octane performance." For those far from the reach of British radio waves, the site allows users to tune in and listen on the web.
There's a Get Writing area where fledgling poets can join discussion forums, submit poems, and join the community of writers to just to shoot the breeze. Don’t miss BBC’s electronic take on the ubiquity of magnetic refrigerator verse: a do-it-yourself magnetic poetry kit for your computer.