What’s your favorite performance of literature?

OK, I just stopped in at the great Terry Kennedy’s Literature in Performance blog, and I noticed the students were starting to post examples of poetry readings found around the web.  One student, LoneEagle, actually put a clip up from Mindwalk (1990) of a reading of a Pablo Neruda poem by John Heard—do you remember that nightmare of a movie? I actually saw it in the theates, and I may have even thought it was some how good at the time, jesus! Anyway, it got me to thinking that this is an awesome approach to using the web for teaching, mine the internets for awesome examples of performances of literature.

So, I jumped in with two classic readings of Edgar Allen Poe’s “The Raven

This one by Christopher Lee, which is pure gold:

And this one by Vincent Price, which is pure cheese

And then, caught up in the spirit of the blog, I posted yet again, this time throwing out Orson Welles’ doing Moby Dick:

OK, so this got me thinking, this is an excellent excuse for a blog post for all your delinquent sinners who have abandoned the slow, mellow high of blogging for the crack cocaine of Twitter. Find and blog about your favorite performance of literature, and use any unique tag/category you like, then share the post with the class by adding your feed to the unique tag or category in the sidebar of Terry Kennedy’s course blog—she won’t mind, trust me 🙂 Let’s demonstrate the power of the web for teaching and learning as it pertains to downright fun YouTube surfing. So, have at it, just look for the field that says add your performance here on the course site.

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5 Responses to What’s your favorite performance of literature?

  1. Phil Greaney says:

    I would have loved to see Raymond Carver read ‘You Don’t Know What Love Is’ – with Charles Bukowski in the audience.

    Otherwise, Ted Hughes reading the Crow poems.

    You won’t find this on YouTube either, but Whitman leaning and loafing at ease, whilst observing a spear of summer grass would have been something, too.

  2. Reverend says:


    Those are performative moments all right, I too would have loved to see Whitman leaning and loafing. In fact, I went to his house in Camden a few weeks back, and it was truly amazing.

  3. Marc says:

    Oh man we loves us some pablo neruda…but my fave has to be ken kesey reciting ee cummings buffalo bill’s but i can’t find a copy of it. Maybe if I can find a copy on an old GD tape I can digitize it…sad..

  4. John Maxwell says:

    Orson Welles doing Moby Dick. Have you seen Alex Itin’s amazing “Orson Whales” animation? Sheer genius: http://www.futureofthebook.org/blog/archives/2008/01/orson_whales_in_high_def.html

  5. Phil Greaney says:

    There’s the poetry archive, too, with some memorable performances from the poets themselves.


    Philip Larkin’s unexcitable, measured reading of his ‘Whitsun Weddings’ is a highlight and quite different from those above.


    (I had a bit trouble streaming the readings this morning, but this might be a temporary thing – it’s worked fine before).

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