Audio Archives


Person Describing Archive

Celyn Harding Jones (2010); Chelsea Obodoechina (2020)

Is this primarily a poetry audio site?


Sponsoring Person or Institution

University of Pennsylvania

Site URL

Site Last Updated
Date Visited


General Description of Archive

Website and archive dedicated to producing new audio recordings as well as preserving existing recordings. Providing as much information about the poet as possible, the forum also presents as much information available for pedagogical and research study. It is also an online gallery, archive and radio show.

Description of archive history or URL

Directed and Founded by Charles Bernstein and Al Filreis. More than 24 million downloads of PennSound mp3 files since the site's inception on January 1, 2005.

Contact information . Al Filreis, Charles Bernstein, Michael S. Hennesey (Editor), Mark Lindsay, (Technical Director)

Searchable options

PennSound has a Google-type search to search the site as well as the web. You can browse through lists of Authors, Series, Anthologies/Collections/Groups, Singles, Close Listening Series, Videos, Classics and Podcasts. The format of it is often hard to find an author as the list is very long and often unwieldy.

Relation from the audio to the text

There is no text or transcriptions available for poetry.

Date/Time/Length/Context info about the audio items

Date, time, length and information about the recording are provided for each recording. Each recording session is divided into separate mp3 files for each poem, and the poem's original publication is noted. There are often many different recordings associated with the same author.

Author bios and context within literary history

There are no author bios or context, though the sheer volume of recordings and poetry on this site provides an accurate picture of the author.

Audio file type: streaming, download, file format, audio file compression quality (WAV, MP3, bitrate)

MP3 files, downloadable. Note that bibliographic information is embedded into the file.

Multimedia integration (pictures, video, etc.)

There are author photos, when available, and some readings are videos.

Audio playback setup (opens in Flash player, on new blank screen, etc.)

The MP3 link opens a new black screen with the Play bar.

Mobile access (i.e. accessible on smart phones, tablets, etc.)



UPDATE (Chelsea Obodoechina): Mobile access is possible, but the website does not cater to mobile devices. Functionality may vary depending on the device.


The home page has PennSound Daily articles about featured recordings. There is also a sidebar that features "New at PennSound" recordings and "Featured Resources". You can browse by Author, Series, Collections, Singles, Close Listening (radio), Video, Classics, Podcasts, Featured resources archives, as well as links to MediaLinks (Kelly Writing House Archives), Al Filreis' page, LINEbreak, PoemTalk, PEPC Library, Live at the Ear, etc.

Discovery features (pre-made playlists; dynamic lists: lists of recent additions, featured items, related items, etc).
Interactivity and Web 2.0 features

Besides listening and searching, interactivity is very basic on this site. There are several Podcasts on how to use PennSound as a pedagogical tool however, it does not function as a research or scholar oriented tool.

Other notes

Note: there is a group of recordings of Series in the archives. Photos, context, etc are often provided for these recordings. Also, PennSound's Manifesto is a MUST-READ for their main objectives and practical procedures. Also, the audio recordings are cut up into individual poems: but the possibility of listening to the whole recordings is only possible by streaming each recording in order.