Readings in Contemporary Poetry

Audio Archives

In the fall of 1987, Dia began a series entitled Readings in Contemporary Poetry. One notable focus of the series was that it was archival -- to document, through video and audiotape, retrospective readings by important contemporary poets. The readings from that first year were held at 55 Mercer Street, in SoHo, in a space that also hosted the Dance Series, and was lined by Dan Flavin's installation of fluorescent lights. The Readings now take place in Chelsea, at Dia's exhibition space at 548 West 22nd Street.

The idea behind this website is to make available, as "listening texts," selections from that historic first season of readings. The poets who read included John Ashbery, Frank Bidart, Robert Creeley, Amy Clampitt, Michael Palmer, Louise Glück, Robert Hass and Seamus Heaney. They read deeply and generously from their own work; the retrospective structure was not as widely used as a format as it is now, and so poets were eager to assemble a compendium. The text of the poem is reprinted, and you may click onto the audio, to hear the poet's voice. The original vision of the Dia series -- to document the broad range of the aesthetic richness of contemporary poetry, and to provide listeners with a textual and aural experience -- is thus preserved on the site.

Brighde Mullins