4 Online Poetry Readings You Need to Watch

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Jessi Lewis

Staff Writer

Jessi Lewis has her MFA in fiction and an MA in Writing and Rhetoric. She was one of the founding editors of Cheat River Review and now works to bring her own fiction, poetry and essays to eyes each month.     Twitter: @jessiwrit

We often forget how powerful poetry can be when it is read. Even more importantly, the original author’s voice can truly take control over the emotions within and open them wide. For teachers and readers alike, it’s necessary to find recordings available in the world that give this kind of window into language’s power.

Here are some examples you just have to experience:

Nikki Giovanni reads “The Significance of Poetry” and “Spices” on Democracy Now

These pieces are from Chasing Utopia. You simply can’t overlook Nikki Giovanni as her influence in poetry is powerful, from the honors she has received to her complex work honoring Tupac Shakur. Here, you can see her read on Democracy Now, which lets us see and hear this powerful poet read and then talk about her process.


Juan Felipe Herrera reads “Five Directions to my House”

Published in Half of the World in Light: New and Selected Poems, this work is an example of our current Poet Laureate’s work. Simplicity sometimes does it all. Herrerra is known for great political response, as noted here  in the Los Angeles Times in regards to his poem on recent gun violence.


Seamus Heaney reads “Digging”

Especially for those who look on Irish culture and writing with curiosity and love, Seamus Heaney is one of the most famous and important poets to look back on. His voice here is so calming, it adds a new layer to this work. Digging was published in Death of A Naturalist.


Sylvia Plath reads “Daddy”

Published in the book Ariel, “Daddy” is one of Plath’s more famous works. Lots of people claim that this one is directly referencing Plath’s father, others think its wrong to jump to conclusions of Confessionalism. Either way, her’s her voice over a trippy video:



Why do this?

Other than the fact that poetry was originally based on verbal language?

Notice how the shifting voices here, the response to a punctuation’s pause and even hand gestures can supplement the poem’s effect. A poet knows his or her poetry far better than anyone else, and here you can experience that in an unadulterated way. So fantastic. Thank you Internet Gods.