Recommended Reading

For though the nature of that we conceive be the same, yet the diversity of our reception of it, in respect of different constitutions of body and prejudices of opinion, gives everything a tincture of our different passions.
—Thomas Hobbes, from Leviathan, 1651

The following has been compiled with an eye towards assisting critical appreciation of the poetry reading. But what do we mean by the term ‘poetry reading’? The answer can be problematic. There are many genres and sub-genres, each a product of historical and socio-political influences, with our appreciation of them swayed by the critical perspectives we adopt.

This list reflects an interest in placing ‘the poetry reading’ (the slam, the open-mic, the academically sanctioned, the book launch, the festival reading, etc.) alongside ethnographic studies that examine a broad spectrum of performance cultures the world over. The resultant theories, developed around how cultures employ both oral and written/printed texts, provide useful models of how we might begin to unravel the dynamics of any poetry reading.

The list also references seminal works on performance and reception theory that address the power of language to shape our lives, as well as how we physically produce and respond to sound.

As with all such lists, there will be works that readers think should have been included. We are open to constructive suggestions. Please see here, to contact the SHCDA with any such suggestions.

Please see Poetry Audio Archives for a list of recommended poetry recording archives


Adorno, Theodor. The Culture Industry. 1991. London and New York: Routledge Classics, 2007.

Agha, Asif. "Register." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 216-219.

Ahern, Laura M. "Agency." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 12-15. 12 Dec. 2008.

Alvarez-Cáccamo, Celso."Codes." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 28-31. 12 Dec. 2008.

Applebaum, David. Voice. Albany: State U of New York P, 1990.

Armstrong, Isobel. The Radical Aesthetic. Oxford: Blackwell, 2000.

Astley, Neil, ed. In Person: 30 Poets. Book with DVD. Filmed by Pamela Robertson- Pearce. Tarset: Bloodaxe Books, 2008.

Austin, J.L. How to Do Things with Words. Cambridge: Harvard UP, 1975.

Bakhtin, Mikhail.The Dialogic Imagination. Ed. Michael Holquist. Trans. Caryl Emerson and Michael Holquist. Austin: U of Texas P, 1981.

Barthes, Roland. Image-Music-Text. Trans. Stephen Heath. New York: Hill and Wang, 1977.

Bartlett, Lee, ed. Talking Poetry:Conversations in the Workshop with Contemporary Poets. Albuquerque: U of New Mexico P, 1987.

Battock Gregory, and Robert Nickas, eds. The Art of Performance: A Critical Anthology. New York: Dutton, 1984.

Bauman, Richard.

  • "Genre." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999):84-87. AnthroSource.12 Dec. 2008. - -.
  • Story,Performance, and Event. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1986.
  • Verbal Art as Performance. Prospect Heights: Waveland Press, 1977.
  • A World of Others’ Words: Cross Cultural Perspectives on Intertextuality. Malden: Blackwell Publishing, 2004.

Bauman, Richard, and Charles Briggs.

  • ‘"The Foundation of All Future Researches’: Franz Boas, George Hunt, Native American Texts, and the Construction of Modernity." American Quarterly 51.3(1999): 479-528.
  • "Poetics & Performance as Critical Perspectives on Language and Social Life." Annual Review of Anthropology 19 (1990): 59 – 88.

Bauman, Richard, and Joel Sherzer, eds. Explorations in the Ethnography of Speaking. 2nd ed. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1989.

Beach, Christopher, ed.

  • Artifice and Indeterminacy: An Anthology of New Poetics. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1998.
  • Poetic Community: Contemporary American Poetry between Community and Institution. Evaston, Illinois: Northwestern UP, 1999.

Bell, Catherine. Ritual Theory, Ritual Practice. New York: Oxford UP, 1992.

Benamou, Michel, and Charles Caramello, Eds. Performance in Postmodern Culture. Madison, Wisconsin: Coda, 1977.

Bernstein, Charles.

  • Close Listening: Poetry and the Performed Word. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1988.
  • My Way: Speeches and Poems. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1999.
  • "Recantorium (a Bachelor Machine, after Duchamp after Kafka)." Critical Enquiry 35.2 (2009): 351-360.

Bernstein, Charles, Ann Lauterbach, Jonathan Monroe, and Bob Perelman. "Poetry, Community, Movement: A Conversation." Diacritics 26.3-4 (1996): 196-210.

Berry, Cicely. Voice and the Actor. New York: Wiley Publishing, 1973.

Berry, Francis. Poetry and the Physical Voice. London: Routledge and Kegan Paul, 1962.

Boland, Eavan, ed. Irish Writers on Writing. San Antonio, Texas: Trinity UP, 2007.

Bowie, Andrew. Aesthetics and Subjectivity: from Kant to Nietzsche. Manchester: Manchester UP, 1990.

Boyarin, Jonathan, ed. The Ethnography of Reading. California UP, 1993.

Brown, Clare, and Don Paterson, eds. Don’t Ask Me What I Mean: Poets in their Own Words. London: Picador, 2003.

Brown John.In the Chair: Interviews with Poets From the North of Ireland. Cliff of Moher: Salmon Publishing, 2002.

Burke, Sean. The Death and Return of the Author: Criticism and Subjectivity in Barthes, Foucault and Derrida. 2nd ed. Edinburgh: Edinburgh UP, 1998.

Burns, Elizabeth. Theatricality. New York: Harper and Rox, 1972.

Butler, Judith. Bodies that Matter: On the Discursive Limits of "Sex". London and New York: Routledge, 1993.

Caerwyn Williams, J. E., and Patrick Ford. The Irish Literary Tradition. Cardiff: U of Wales P,1992.

Carlson, Marvin. Performance: A Critical Introduction. 2nd ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2003.

Carpenter, Joseph Edwards. The Popular Elocutionist and Reciter. London and New York: Frederick Warne and Co., 1894. Internet Archive. Digitized 2007 from University of California Libraries. 21 Jan. 2009. - -.

Chomsky, Noam.

  • Essays on Form and Interpretation. New York: North-Holland, 1977.
  • Language and the Mind. Enlarged ed. London and New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, 1972.
  • The Logical Structure of Linguistic Theory. New York and London: Plenum Press, 1975.

Clark, Herbert H. Arenas of Language Use. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1992.

Clunies-Ross, Pamela. "Promoting Poetry Events." John Medlin ed. Poetry Live: British and Irish Poetry. London: Poetry Society, 1987.

Coren, Pamela. "Bring What to Life Exactly?" Poetry Now Review. 33.5 (2007): 10-12.

Counsell, Colin, and Laurie Woods, eds. Performance Analysis: An Introductory Coursebook. London and New York: Routledge, 2001.

Davidson, Michael. "‘Skewed by Design’: From Act to Speech Act in Language-Writing." Beach, Christopher, ed. Artifice and Indeterminacy: An Anthology of New Poetics. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 1998. 70-76.

Dawe, Gerald. How’s the Poetry Going: Literary Politics and Ireland Today. 2nded. Belfast: Lagan Press, 1993.

Derrida, Jacques.

  • The Derrida Reader: Writing Performances. Ed. Juilan Wolfreys. Edinburgh: Edinburgh University Press.
  • Limited Inc. Trans. Samuel Weber. Ed. Gerald Graff. Northwestern UP, 1988.

Du Bois, John W. "Grammar." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 92-95. 12 Dec. 2008.

Dyer, Richard. Only Entertainment. 2nd Ed. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

Economou, George. "Some Notes Towards Finding A View of the New Oral Poetry." Boundary 2: The Oral Impulse in Contemporary American Poetry 3.3 (1975) 653-653.

Edwards, Viv, and Thomas J. Sienkewicz. Oral Cultures Past and Present: Rappin’ and Homer. Oxford: Basil Blackwell, 1991.

Fabian, Johannes. Ethnography as Commentary: Writing from the Virtual Archive. Durham: Duke UP, 2008.

Finch, Peter. The Poetry Business. Bridgend: Seren, 1994.

Finnegan, Ruth.

  • Communicating: The Multiple Modes of Human Interconnection. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.
  • Oral Poetry: Its Nature, Significance and Social Context Bloomington: Indiana Press, 1992.
  • Oral Traditions and the Verbal Arts: A Guide to Research Practices.London and New York: Routledge, 1992.

Flower, R.The Irish Tradition. Dublin: Lilliput Press, 1994.

Fogerty, Elsie.

  • Rhythm. London:George Allen and Unwin, 1937.
  • The Speaking of English Verse. London: J. M. Dent, 1923.

Foley, John Miles.

  • How to Read an Oral Poem. Urbana: U of Illinois P, 2002.
  • Oral Tradition in Literature: Interpretation in Context. Columbia: U of Missouri P, 1986.
  • The Singer of Tales in Performance. Bloomington and Indianapolis: Indiana UP, 1995.

Garner, Stanton B. Bodied Spaces: Phenomenology and Performance in Contemporary Drama. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1994.

Glazier, Loss Pequeño. Digital Poetics: The Making of E-Poetries. Tuscaloosa: U of Alabama P, 2002.

Gioia, Dana. "Can Poetry Matter?" Atlantic Monthly 267.5(1991): 94-106.

Goffman, Erving.

  • Behaviour in Public Places: Notes on the Social Organization of Gatherings. New York: Free Press of Glencoe, 1963.
  • Frame-Analysis. An Essay on the Organization of Experience. New York: Harper & Row, 1974.
  • Interaction Ritual: Essays in Face-to-Face Behaviour. Chicago: Aldine, 1967.
  • The Presentation of Self in Everyday Life. London: Penguin, 1959.

Goody, Jack R. The Interface Between the Written and the Oral. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987.

Graddol, D., J. Cheshire, and J. Swann. Describing Language. 2nd ed. Buckingham: Open University Press, 2001.

Gronbeck, Bruce E., Thomas J. Farrell and Paul A. Soukup, eds. Media, Consciousness, and Culture: Explorations of Walter Ong’s Thought. London: Sage Publications, 1991.

Gould, Timothy. "The Unhappy Performative." Eds. Andrew Parker and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick. Performativity and Performance. London and New York: Routledge, 1995.

Habinek, Thomas. "Singing, Speaking, Making, Writing: Classical Alternatives to Literature and Literary Studies." Stanford Electronic Humanities Review. 6.1 (1998). 13 May 2007. - -.

Hall, Donald. "The Poetry Reading: Public Performance/ Private Art." American Scholar 54.1(1984-85) 63-77.

Hall, Kira. "Performativity." Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 184-187.

Haviland, John B. “Gesture.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 88-91. 12 Dec. 2008.>.

Higgins, Kevin. “The Role of Performance in Contemporary Irish Poetry: Helping Irish Poetry Break Out of the Victorian Drawing Room.” The Dublin Quarterly. Feb.-May (2007). 17 Mar. 2010.

Hinton, Leanne, Johanna Nichols, and John Ohala, eds. Sound Symbolism. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1994.

Hobbes, Thomas. Leviathan. 1651. London and New York: J. M. Dent and Sons, 1973.

Hoëm, Ingrid. “Theatre.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 247-250.

Hoyles, Asher, and Martin Hoyles. Moving Voices: Black Performance Poetry. London: Hansib, 2002.

Hymes, Dell.

Jarvis, Simon.

  • “Prosody as Cognition.” Critical Quarterly 40.4 (1999) 3-15.
  • “Prosody as Tradition.” Dalhousie Review 79.2 (1999) 151-172.

Jauss, Hans Robert. Towards an Aesthetic of Reception. Trans. Timothy Rahti. Theory and History of Lit. 2. Minneapolis: U of Minnesota P, 1982.

Kapla, Deborah A. “Performance.” Journal of American Folklore 108.430 (1995): 479-508.

Keane, Webb. “Voice.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 271-273.

Keating, Elizabeth. “Space.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 234-237.

Kemal, Salim, and Ivan Gaskell. Performance and Authenticity in the Arts. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 1999.

Kennedy, David. “Reading The Reading: Poetry as Loss, Excess and Speaking with the Dead.” Mark Robinson, ed. Words Out Loud: Ten Essays about Poetry Readings. Exeter: Stride, 2002. 27-31.

Kennedy, David, and Keith Tuma, eds. Additional Apparitions: Poetry, Performance and Site Specificity. Sheffield: The Paper and Cherry on the Top Press, 2002.

Kiberd, Declan. Irish Classics. London: Granta Books, 2001.

Kinsella, Thomas.The Duel Tradition: An Essay on Poetry and Politics in Ireland. Manchester: Carcanet, 1995.

Kramsch, Claire. Language and Culture. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1998.

Krasner, David, and David Z. Saltz. Staging Philosophy: Intersections of Theater, Performance, and Philosophy. Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 2006.

Kuipers, Joel. “Oratory.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 173-176. 12 Dec. 2008.

LaBelle, Brandon, and Christof Migone. Writing Aloud: The Sonics of Language. Los Angeles: Errant Bodies Press, 2001.

Lakoff, George, and Mark Johnson. Philosophy in the Flesh: The Embodied Mind and Its Challenges to Western Thought. New York: Basic Books, 1999.

Levertov, Denise. Light Up The Cave. New York: New Directions 1981.

Long, Beverley Whitaker, and Mary Francis Hopkins. Performing Literature: An Introduction to Oral Interpretation. Englewood Cliffs, New Jersey: Prentice-Hall, 1982.

Lord, Albert. The Singer of Tales. Cambridge, Massachusetts: Harvard UP, 1960.

Machan, Katharyn Howd. “Breath into Fire: Feminism and Poetry Readings.” Mid-American Review 12.2 (1992) 120-126.

Marsh, Nicky, Peter Middleton, and Victoria Sheppard. “‘Blasts of Language’: Changes in Oral Poetics in Britain since 1965.” Oral Tradition 21.1 (2006): 44-67.

McConachie, Bruce, and Elizabeth Hart, eds. Performance and Cognition: Theatre Studies and the Cognitive Turn. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

McCully, C. B., ed. The Poet’s Voice and Craft. Manchester: Carcanet, 1994.

McGann, Jerome. Radiant Textuality: Literature after the World Wide Web. London: Palgrave, 2001.

McLuhan, Marshall. Understanding Media.1964. London and New York: Routledge Classics, 2006.

Medina, Tony, ed. Bum Rush the Page: A Def Poetry Jam. New York: Three Rivers press, 2001.

Medlin, John, ed. Poetry Live: British and Irish Poetry. London: Poetry Society, 1987.

Merleau-Ponty, Maurice. Phenomenology of Perception. 1943. Trans. Colin Smith. London and New York: Routledge Classics, 2006.

Middleton, Peter.

Miller, J. Hillis. “Performativity as Performance / Performativity as Speech Act: Derrida’s Special theory of Performativity.” South Atlantic Review 106.2 (2007): 205-217.

Moore, Diane M. Smiles Above the Platform: Poets in Public. St. Helier, Jersey: Marc Goldring Books, 1996.

Morgan, Marcyliena. “Community.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 36-38. 12 Dec. 2008.

Morley, David. The Cambridge Introduction to Creative Writing. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2007.

Morse, Jonathan.Word by Word: The Language of Memory. Ithaca: Cornell UP, 1990.

Munden, Paul, and Stephen Wade. Reading the Applause: Reflections on Performance Poetry by Various Artists. York: Talking Shop, 1999.

Nellhaus, Tobin. "Critical Realism and Performance Strategies." Eds. David Krasner, and David Z. Saltz. Staging Philosophy: Intersections of Theater, Performance, and Philosophy. Ann Arbor: U of Michigan P, 2006.

Ong, Walter. Orality and Literacy: The Technologizing of the Word. 1982. London and New York: Routledge, 2006.

Pandolfi, Marietta. “Body.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 16-19. 12 Dec. 2008.

Parker, Andrew, and Eve Kosofsky Sedgwick, eds. Performativity and Performance. London and New York: Routledge, 1995.

Parry, Milman. The Making of Homeric Verse: The Collected Papers of Milman Parry. Ed. Adam Parry. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1971.

Perks, Rob. Oral History: An Annotated Bibliography. London: British Library Sound Archive, 1990.

Perri, Antonio. “Writing.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 274-276.

Pope, Robert. Creativity: Theory, History, Practice. London & New York: Routledge, 2005.

Quasha, George. “Dialogos: Between the Written and Oral in Contemporary Poetry.” New Literary History 8.3 (1977) 485-506.

Redmond, James. The Theatrical Space. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1987.

Ricks, Christopher. The Force of Poetry. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1984.

Robb, Mary Margaret. Oral Interpretation of Literature in American Colleges Universities. New York: H. W. Wilson, 1941.

Robinson, Mark, ed. Words Out Loud: Ten Essays About Poetry Readings. Exeter: Stride, 2002.

Rodenberg, Patsy. The Need for Words: Voice and the Text. London: Methuen Drama and Reed Publishing, 1993.

Rubin, David. Memory in Oral Traditions. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1995.

Rumsey, Alan. “Orality.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 170-172.

Sansome, David, ed. Speech in Our Time. London: Hinrichsen, 1948.

Saussure, Ferdinand de. Course in General Linguistics. Trans. Wade Baskin. Eds. Charles Bally and Albert Sechehaye. London: P. Owen, 1960.

Sbisá, Marina. “Act.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 9-11. AnthroSource.12 Dec. 2008.

Schechner, Richard.

  • Between Theatre and Anthropology. Philadelphia: U of Philadelphia P, 1985.
  • Collective Reflexivity: Restoration of Behaviour.” A Crack in the Mirror: Reflexive Perspectives in Anthropology. Ed. Jay Ruby. Philadelphia: U of Philadelphia P, 1982. 39-81.
  • Performance Theory. London and New York: Routledge Classics, 2003.
  • Public Domain: Essays on the Theatre. Indianapolis: Bobbs-Merrill, 1969.
  • ed. Ritual, Play and Performance. New York: Seabury, 1977.

Schechner, Richard, and Willa Appel, eds. By Means of Performance: Intercultural Studies of Theatre and Ritual. Cambridge: Cambridge UP, 1990.

Schreibman, Susan, Ray Siemens, and John Unsworth, eds. A Companion to Digital Humanities. Oxford: Blackwell Publishing, 2008.

Searle, John. The Rediscovery of the Mind. Cambridge, Massachusetts: MIT Press, 1992.

Sherwood, Kenneth. “Elaborate Versionings: Characteristics of Emergent Performance in Three Print/Oral/Aural Poets”. Oral Tradition 21.1. (2006): 119-147.

Sidnell, Jack. “Competence.” Journal of Linguistic Anthropology 9.1-2 (1999): 39-41.

Simpson, Paul. Language Ideology and Point of View. London and New York: Routledge, 1993.

Sivier, Evelyn M. “English Poets, Teachers, and Festivals in ‘A Golden Age of Poetry Speaking’, 1920-1950.” David W. Thompson ed. Performance of Literature in Historical Perspectives. Lanham, Maryland: UP of America, 1983.

Slevin, James. The Internet and Society. Cambridge, England: Polity Press, 2000.

Slinn, Warwick. “Poetry and Culture: Performativity and Critique.” New Literary History 30.1 (1999) 57-74.

Smith, Mark Kelly, and Mark Eleveld, eds. The Spoken Word Revolution: Slam, Hip Hop and the Poetry of a New Generation. Book with CD-Rom. Naperville, Illinois: Sourcebooks, 2005.

Stern, Frederick C. "The Formal Poetry Reading.” The Drama Review 35.3 (1991) 67-84.

Stewart, Garrett. Reading Voices: Literature and Phonotext. Berkeley: U of California P, 2001.

Stewart, Susan. Poetry and the Fate of the Senses. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 2002.

Stockwell, Peter. Cognitive Poetics: An Introduction. London and New York: Routledge, 2002.

Tannen, Deborah, ed. Spoken and Written Language: Exploring Orality and Literacy. Advances in Discourse Processes 9. Norwood: Ablex, 1982.

Tedlock, Dennis. “Learning to Listen: Oral Poetry as History.” Boundary 2: The Oral Impulse in Contemporary Poetry 3.3 (1975) 707-728.

Trilling, Lionel. Sincerity and Authenticity. Oxford: Oxford UP, 1984.

Tsur, Reuven.

Turner, Mark.

  • Death is the Mother of Beauty: Mind, Metaphor, Criticism. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1987.
  • The Literary Mind. New York and Oxford: Oxford UP, 1996.
  • Reading Minds: The Study of English in the Age of Cognitive Science. Princeton, NJ: Princeton UP, 1991.

Turner, Victor.

  • The Anthropology of Performance. Baltimore: PAJ Publications, 1988.

  • The Ritual Process: Structures and Anti-Structures. New York: Aldine, 1969.
  • From Ritual to Theatre: The Human Seriousness of Play. New York: Performing Arts Journal Publications, 1982.

Tushingham, David. Live 2: Not What I Am. London: Methuen, 1995.

Vincent, Stephen, and Ellen Zweig, eds. The Poetry Reading: A Contemporary Compendium on Language and Performance. San Francisco: Momo’s Press, 1981.

Wade, Stephen. Writing Poetry for Performance. London: Straightforward, 1998.

Wiles, Timothy J. The Theatre Event: Modern Theories of Performance. Chicago: U of Chicago P, 1980.

Williams, Raymond. Drama in Performance. 1954. Harmondsworth: Penguin Books, 1968.

Winters, Yvor. "The Audible Reading of Poetry." Hudson Review 4.3 (1951) 433-447.

Wojahn, David. “A Kind of Vaudeville: Appraising The Age of the Poetry Reading.” New England Review and Bread Loaf Quarterly 8:2 (1985) 265-282.

Webster, Anthony K. “To All the Former Cats and Stomps of the Navajo Nation: Performance, the Individual, and Cultural Poetic Traditions.” Language in Society 37 (2008): 61-89.

Yordon, Judy E. Roles In Interpretation. 4th ed. Boston: McGraw Hill College, 1999.

Zitomer, Rachel. “Presenting the Open Mic: Contemporary Poetry Readings Under and Beyond Academic Surveillance.” Philament 10 (2007) 47-58. 20 Jan. 2008.