John Lithgow has compiled an outstanding collection of memorable poems and has gathered his famous friends to read them. The wide variety of carefully selected poetry in this audiobook provides the perfect introduction to reel in those who are new to poetry, and for poetry lovers to experience beloved verses in a fresh, vivid way. Lithgow offers insightful and sometimes poignant commentary to accompany each poem. His essential criterion is that "each poem's light shines more brightly when read aloud".
William Blake, Emily Dickinson, Edgar Allen Poe, and Dylan Thomas are just a few names among Lithgow's comprehensive list of poetry masters. Family members can take turns listening to these poems and enjoy how each comes to life through the spoken word in this engaging poetry collection.
©2007 The Watershed Company; (P)2007 Hachette Audio
I really enjoyed this collection: both Lithgow's commentary which was insightful and funny, and hearing the different, sometimes familiar voices reciting the poems. There is a lot of a variety here and so for most listeners, there will be old and new favourites. This is a lovely collection to have and to give - you can't really go wrong.
This is for me a full introduction into British poetry and not only as I am from Romania.I loved some I hated some but kept the knowledge. I like the voice and personality of the author that adds to creating athmosphere.I am fully delighted in this purchase.
"A Painless Crash Course in the Great Western Poets"
Some of the modern poems were so awful, I wanted to cry, but the rest were so good, it made up for it.
Lithgow expertly introduces 50 prominent poets. They are presented alphabetically and samples of their poetry are narrated by Hollywood stars such as Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Jodie Foster, etc.
I suppose the word “family” is in the title because there is some nonsense poetry included and because of Lithgow’s grandfatherly tone. But if I were trying to introduce my children to poetry, this is not the selection I would choose because of the inclusion of modern poetry with its clunky rythms and obtuse meanings. (If someone has to explain a poem to you before you can like it, you have already missed much of the magic, soul-touching quality of poetry.)
If I had known how much modern poetry was in this audiobook, I probably would not have purchased it. On the other hand, I was glad to have such a painless, crash course on the “greats” of Western poetry. I even learned to appreciate the talents of several poets that I hadn’t liked before. I had hoped for more classic poetry and couldn’t find a list before buying, so I'm including a list here for future buyers:
Matthew Arnold (1822-1888)
W.H. Auden (1907-1973)
John Berryman (1914-1972)
Elizabeth Bishop (1911-1979)
William Blake (1757-1827)
Gwendolyn Brooks (1917-2000)
Elizabeth Barrett Browning(1806-1861)
Robert Burns (1759-1796)
Lord Byron (1788-1824)
Lewis Carroll (1831-1898)
Geoffrey Chaucer (1342-1400?)
Samuel Taylor Coleridge (1772-1834)
Hart Crane (1899-1932)
E.E. Cummings (1894-1962)
Emily Dickinson (1830-1886)
John Donne (1572-1631)
T.S. Eliot (1888-1965)
Robert Frost (18874-1963)
William S. Gilbert (1836-1911)
Allen Ginsberg (1926-1997)
Robert Herrick (1591-1674)
Gerard Manley Hopkins(1844-1889)
A.E. Houseman (1859-1936)
Langston Hughes (1902-1967)
Randall Jarrell (1914-1965)
Ben Johnson (1572-1657)
John Keats (1795-1821)
Philip Larkin (1922-1985)
Edward Lear (1812-1888)
Henry W. Longfellow (1807-1882)
Robert Lowell (1917-1977)
Andrew Marvell (1621-1678)
Edna St. Vincent Millay (1892-1915)
Marianne Moore (1887-1972)
Ogden Nash (1902-1971)
Dorothy Parker (1893-1967)
Edgar Allen Poe (1809-1849)
Ezra Pound (1885-1972)
Christina Rosetti (1830-1894)
Carl Sandburg (1878-1967)
William Shakespeare (1564-1616)
Percy B. Shelley (1792-1822)
Edmund Spencer (1552-1599)
Gertrude Stein (1874-1946)
Wallace Stevens (1879-1955)
Dylan Thomas (1914-1953)
Walt Whitman (1819-1892)
William Carlos Williams (1883-1963)
Willam Wordsworth (1770-1850)
William Butler Yeats (1865-1939)
"Thank You, JL"
There once was a book on my iPad,
When piped into ears made them glad;
Adoring the poems of Keats,
and too the bohemian beats,
I mostly wish John Lithgow were my dad.
I have listened to this several times and each time I enjoyed it more. There is "just enough" biographical information about each poet as well as suggestions for additional reading. All of the narrators are terrific. If you are new to poetry or a poetry lover, you'll enjoy this one. Highly recommended.
"A great introduction"
Poetry is unknown territory for me, and this was a wonderful listen. John Lithgow is enthusiastic and informative, and the readings are very good. No issues with the selections, and was glad there was no heavy analysis.
"Our Absolute Favorite Book read by "Dad""
There is absolutely something enchanting & rather intoxicating about John Lithgow's voice. His narration is reminiscent of 'dear ole Dad' giving a bit of information about each piece & it's author; but never too much too bore, yet enough to enlighten & entice you to want more.
The kids actually WANT to hear it so much so that we now have a nightly 'read'. The poetry is always varied, making it always new sounding & exciting to young & older ears alike. It's a wonderful thing to be able to say "the kids want to hear poetry each night"! It's kind of funny, I always feel like I'm "tricking" people into believing this, as if maybe I'm referring to some children's stories that can be considered poetry. Not the case! This is the real deal, with poets both old & new. They have even looked up different poets after hearing them in this to hear more of their works. Now if that's not an EXCELLENT poetry book, to inspire even the youngest of us, what is?
Thank-you for such a great 'book', the memorable nights, & opening the children's minds to thoroughly enjoy poetry!
I hope this helps you, & you give a listen. (Click Yes below if it helps you decide-thanks:)
I have always loved poetry,and this collection was recommended to me.I am on my second
run through and am transported once again by the mellifluous tones of John Lithgow and the terrific renditions of his chosen presenters.The eclectic choice of poems, surprise and delight.
Most often the chosen poem is not the most recognisable by the poet,something a little
off kilter to tease and encourage further exploration.
John Lithgow is mesmerising,His perfect pitch,his beautiful diction,and his erudite introduction to each poet was entertaining as well as educational.
"Extraordinary for the Classroom, or Kids At Home"
Brilliantly cast readers
My 3-year old son has me playing Billy Connolly's Owl & the Pussy Cat over and over, while my students were riveted by the Cavalier poet as we studied the English Civil Wars in history class.
The casting is superb. Gary Sinise gives, of course, a genius, understated reading. Morgan Freeman's We Real Cool absolutely captures the language and purpose of these deceptively simple words (although, he could read a Take Out menu and sound exquisite). And the ladies - Kathy Bates, Helen Miren, Jody Foster...
I fell in love with poetry again, having remembered that it is meant to be read aloud, not studied and deconstructed in a classroom. It has changed the way I teach.
An ideal Christmas gift for all the teachers in your life.
"Poetry in a meaningful way"
Relevant, Insightful and well delivered
Listening to Gertrude Stein perform her poem in homage to Picasso at the urging of John Lithgow.
No. What I loved about what Mr. Lithgow did was to present background information about the poet, things to listen for in the poem and then an analysis after it was performed. Many of the poems are familiar to me and it was really interesting to hear a different perspective on the poems meanings.
Many of the performances were quite moving.
This would be a really good audio book to listen to with family and friends and to allow everyone to share their insights along with what is shared in the narration.
"Excellent introduction to poetry"
I have long been a fan of good poetry but knew little or nothing of the art behind the words. This was a fantastic introduction for me to the world of poetry, the history and great names in the area - as well as providing me with a lot of very good poems to think over and work through my mind. Liked it a lot.
No, it is something I have returned to several times and still working my way through parts of it.
If you like poetry you will love this book. John Lithgow may not be the most scholarly poetry critic in the world - but that's what I liked most about this book. His comments about each poet's life as well as their poetry is, if not amazing, at least entertaining. The readers of the poems, which in some cases is John Lithgow, and in other cases other notable actors and readers are all great. If I found other books like this I would buy them.
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